Velara

Velara

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Reviews
Her Golemancer Girlfriend

It's unequivocally, mathematically, true. 

But if you need me to show my work, well. Here's all the equations.

Her Golemancer Girlfriend is a story about a golem that's been left all on her own. and her willingness to go to any ends to get revenge on the vicious colonial corporation that stole her girlfriend/creator away.

Of course, being recently awoken and naive, our heroine has all the grace, wisdom, and subtlety of a bull in a china shop. So she blunders recklessly into trouble over, and over and over again. Fortunately she's got a sassy system programmed by her missing girlfriend to advise her, keep her alive and help use the residual soul energy from her foes to enhance her capabilities and turn her into an unstoppable, ruthless fighting machine. That is if the growing cadre of people she meets along the way don't infect her with a pesky conscience first.

Stylistically: the author paints a fantastic picture of a corporatized fantasy world, where a large megacorp is bent of extracting as much as possible from their colonial venture. By and large the writing is fluid, and flows well; with brisky snappy fight scenes. Occassionally an awkward word choice, or an odd thought from the MC will make me pause, but it rarely impedes my enjoyment of the story. Its always nice to see a world where represenation extends beyond the main characters, and the world has plenty of background queer represenation, which is a solid plus.

4.5/5

Story: the plot is well paced, with events progressing at a steady clip, including frequent upgrades for the MCs. There is also a clear sense of direction, despite the main character's own inability to put together a good plan, which is I imagine quite difficult to pull off; but has been executed quite well.

5/5

Gramatically, errors are rare; and most errors that do exist have been spotted by keen eyed readers; and corrections are apparently imminent. Moreover, those errors where corrections are pending did not impact my enjoyment of the story.

5/5

The characters are really well done, there is a distinct personality out of the HUD system that is consistent with the personality displayed by Ed (the titual girlfriend) in the flashback scenes. The side characters all have distinct voices and desires and come across feeling reasonably mutli-dimensional even with fairly limited screen time. As for the main character, well, she is, quite frankly a ruthless, reckless fool, and that is captured perfectly in both thought and action; it can be a little frustrating watching a character make mistakes knowing they're likely to bring serious consequences down on their head. And, more damningly making the mistake of consistently overestimating her abiltiies. Although those consequences promise to be narratively very satisfying. And, given the mental age of the character I think any other portrayal would read as inauthentic. Ultimately what makes these flaws fun to read about is the sense that Amelia is growing, and learning, and becoming a better character who might be able to look back at her earlier decisions and be horrified by her own foolishness.

4.5/5

Overall, its a bang up novel with rapid updates. If the premise interests you, I highly recommend you dive right in.

5/5


THE BOOK OF DREAMS, FIRST CHAPTER : THE STAFF AND THE SWORD

This is part of a series of reviews where I read the first 50 pages of the book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading.  

The Book of Dreams: Staff and Sword happens to hit a very particular nostalgia niche for me. It reminds me of a campaign played several years ago about a bunch of peasants running around the length and breadth of the world in hopes of curing a plague that was ravaging their home. Although, not going to like, reading about a massive plague is a post COVID-19 world was a bit of a weird time for me. 

In any event the opening is straightforward, but the hook is gripping and its immediately clear what the main characters goals and the stakes are. Though plenty of room is left for complications along the ways. 

Favourite Part

I alluded to it above but for the me, the plotting is this fictions killer feature. It's clean, immediately introduces stakes that show why the main character needs to set out and makes me care about the result of his quest. 

I'm also going to highlight the world building, there is a lot of interesting bits moving around with the magic and I was frequently intrigued by the lore that was introduced and eager to discover more. 

However.

Least Favourite Bit

The synopsis didn't like when it said the story could use some editing, there are a smatter of typos and other grammatical errors. But, more to the point far too often I found myself stopping to puzzle at the construction of a sentence. Read aloud, the words awkwardly tumble into one another, and straight forward thoughts meander with ideas sometimes introduced in the wrong place. With that said, when the sentence construction wasn't driving me up a way, a lot of the language is quite beautiful. Which can make for a bit of a mixed bag. 

My other gripe was the frequency of unimportant details being dropped into the story as exposition. With random asides just occasionally nestled between two perfectly good paragraphs, lurking, waiting to pounce and distrupt the flow. 

Most of the time I could see no discernible reason for these paragraphs to exist, however if they are essential down the line better integration elsewhere in the story could only improve upon the experience.

Overall

Ultimately the narrative is compelling and hook-y everything you want in a good opening, which left me excited to read more, even if the technical aspects of the writing occasionally made me desire to be reading something else. 

4/5


The Cassidia Saga

This is part of a series of reviews where I read the first 50 pages of the book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading. 

I'm at a bit of loss about what to say about The Warrior Orphan. It's got an extremely solid opening that I would expect to find in a published novel perusing the local book shop. 

If you're interested in a story with a compelling coming of age narrative with a fantasy military bent this story is an excellent example. Better yet, the story is complete so you can enjoy the entire experience right now.

Favourite Part:

I think my favourite part is the narrative arc/pacing. The story moves along at a lively clip, with each scene flowing naturally from the last. Though, that doesn't mean that we get bogged down in the details, scenes end when appropriate and we are invited back into them at choice moments, without any really distruption in story flow. 

It can be a difficult effect to achieve but I found that the Warrior Orphan executed it well. And consequently help my interest quite easily for the first fifty pages. 

Least Favourite Part:

Awkward sentence construction. Every so often I'd encounter a sentence or a word used in a way that felt unnatural or jarring. These did not make for frequent interruptions, and in each case the meaning was clear, however from a pleasure of reading standpoint the book would be better for an editing pass from a native English speaker to clean up some of the distracting sentences. In the process ideally they would also clean up a few minor mistakes, like mistaken names and other such typos.

If I'm stretching a little, I will say that at times I found Tolwin and the Captain to both be a little melodramatic at times, which stretched credulity, however the impact on my overall enjoyment was minimal.

Overall

The Warrior Orphan is a good book, and you should read it. The plot is excellent, and the main character promises to be very interesting to watch grow. 

5/5


Minding Others' Business

This part of a review series in which I read the early segment of a book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading and the overall quality of the fiction. Unlike the other reviews in this series this will be an advanced review, per the author's request.

Minding Other's Business is an adventure story with a liberal dose of black comedy,  and a healthy pinch of the absurd. Ultimately, I didn't find the comedy funny an,d robbed of its humour, I didn't find the story engaging enough to want to continue reading. However, if you're at all in the market for what Anjin is selling, I'd strongly suggest diving into the first few chapters. Because if you find yourself chuckling, you're in for a real treat. 

Style Score: 3.5/5

Stylistically I've got some bones to pick with this story. There is liberal use of creative dialogue tags, which once I noticed I couldn't stop noticing, taking me out of the reading flow. 

Additionally, I find that the sentence construction sometimes slides into being either awkward or distracting, either due to repetition of words or unusual stylistic choices. 

However, despite my gripes, the author does do a magnificent job of conjuring the tone of the world. Words are chosen with delightful aplomb the convey the exact sort of dark, twisted, weird world these people live in. 

Furthermore, there are some fantastic lines that are evocative in a way that only perfectly chosen prose can be. 

Much like with the comedy, even my gripes are the result of intentional choices the author has made to give the prose the exact feel desired. Unfortunately, like the comedy I found not all of these decisions paid off. 

Grammar Score: 4.5/5
Grammar errors were minimal. Most sentences are flawless, although an occasional missing word, or in one case, a rogue quotation mark lurking in the middle of a passage, left me scratching my head.

Story Score: 4.5/5

In general the pacing and progression of the story is excellent. No chapter feels like filler. 

Furthermore, despite the chaotic nature of the characters and situations, most of the time the natural progression  between things feels perfect. 

However, I did occasionally find the transitions between chapters awkward. Twice I had to flip back to the previous chapters to figure out what had just happened and make sure I hadn't missed something, or accidentally jumped an extra chapter ahead. In both cases, events became clear slightly later in the chapter, however I'd have appreciated smoother transitions between chapters in each of these instances. 

Character Score: 4.5/5

A lot of the characters have really strong personalities, with relationships with other members of the group and the rest of the world that are established quickly through poignant interactions. 

Furthermore, every time something new is revealed about a character it is interesting, (potentially funny idk), and at the same time feels natural to the setting. 

My only real gripe is that we spend the first few chapters being told how much of a jerk one of the character's is, however I was often unconvinced. I felt like the jerkish-ness was oversold in the telling compared to how it was portrayed. Quirks of an unreliable narrator I suppose. In any event, I sometimes found that juxtaposition more distracting than interesting, because I felt like I was meant to be agreeing with the narrators assessement. 

Overall: 4.5/5

Minding Other's Business does an excellent job crafting the sort of story it sets out to be. If you're in the market for a dark comedic adventure with a jabberwoky flair look no further, because this is your book. 


The Nephlim Trilogy: Qleehl

This is part of a series of reviews where I read the first 50 pages of the book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading. 

Normally after reading a fiction for this project I jump right into the review, but this one left me so stumped I had to let it sit and breath for a couple days. Qleehl is an experience. The writing itself is gorgeous, but I'm 50 pages in and I still don't know what its about, per say. If you love the weird-fantasy aesthetic and psychological character driven stories, I think you'll like Qleehl. If you're more interested in a tight narrative you'll have better luck elsewhere. 

Favourite Part

This has to go to the prose, some of the turns of phrase are so intense it make my teeth itch. When you're in the perspective of a broken man, the prose is broken, and fragmented. But not unintelligible which is a fine line to walk.

This carries throughout all the parts I read, with prose showcasing the characters in a way that is quite masterful.  

The use of present tense lends a lot of immediacy to the scenes, which is exploited to good effect most of the time. Though there are occasional lines where that tense choice seems to be fighting the historical tone, especially in the prologue. 

Least Favourite Part:

The narrative, I suppose. I can see the links between the chapters, and I've got a feeling I can see how the disparate perspectives flow together, but ultimately I'm not interested. 

I think this book in attempting something very challenging, that just, doesn't quite work. 

The prose positions us for an intense character driven fiction, but leaps from character to character in a way that is hard to get away without with a strong narrative tie to link them altogether. Instead the author has gossamer light touch hinting at the underlying thread. 

I think the book reaches for the best of both worlds between slow paced psychological character exploration and complex multi-part narrative. The end result is a slow beginning that is mired in the difficulties both of those structures bring.

Overall:

I have to circle back to the question I'm really asking in these continue reviews, which is: did the beginning hook me? For Qleehl that answer was a hard no. However, the authors expert use of prose, worldbuilding and the threads of an underlying narrative promise that it could come together into some spectacular that does bring together the best of all its elements. Thus if you're not bothered overmuch by weaker beginning, its a book that deserves a shot. 

3.5/5


Arcadis Park

This is part of a series of reviews where I read the first 50 pages of the book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading. 

This was an exceptional hard fiction for me to review, because its the sort of book you'd practically to pay me to read. With that said, while I didn't continue it, if you're interested in a modern murder mystery you'd be hard pressed to find better on RR. 

Favourite Part:

Characterization & Setting. I'm lumping these together because of how integral they are to the experience. Both the park, and the people working in it feel real. Conversations between various co-workers feel exactly like the sort of conversations me and my co-workers had during the unpleasant summer I spent working at an amusement park. Its not only the characters, but also the little details in the setting that really capture the feel of working at a summer amusement park. 

Most importantly, beyond just feeling authentic the characters in question do feel multi dimensional. Even in the relatively short segment I sampled you get to see some interesting elements of the various people that aren't immediately apparent at first glance. This goes for the setting as well, with attention paid to the little details of how the park runs. 

I will say as well that the photography aspect promises to introduce an interesting element to the murder mystery story that I suspect a lot of readers will find intriguing. 

Least Favourite Part

Scene transitions. There are a lot of mid chapter scene transitions with associated perspective changes and while some of them are handled well, I got lost during others. Sometimes wondering how a character would be reacting in a particular scene only to realize they'd left at some point. 

Aside from a little hiccup or two that necessitated some rereading the scene changes didn't have a major impact on my ability to understand what was happening. However, a little bit of tightening around those transitions would elevate Arcadis Park from a fiction that is great, to excellent. 

Overall

Arcadis Park wasn't for me, but I passionately avoid reading things set in analogues for our modern world. If you're at all interested in reading about the experiences of a bunch of young teens working at a water park where a murder occurs. Arcadis Park is for you, and you'd be remiss not to try it.

 


Locking Horns, Breaking Teeth. [Minotaur Paladin Rewrite.]

This is part of a series of reviews where I read the first 50 pages of the book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading. 

And with Locking Horns, not only did I want to keep reading. I actually kept reading. It proved a hard book to put down as I blew past my initial goal of 50 pages for the review.

If you're looking for a good system apocalypse fiction, stop, because you've found one.  Locking Horns executes marvellously on the premise and feels realistic in a way system apocalypse novels something don't. Sure the decisions people are making are absurd, but they feel like the sort of dumb choices real people would make if a system apocoplyse happened. Giving us a glimpse into the life of those responsible for the apocalypse further distinguishes Locking Horns from its competition. Seriously, check it out.

Favourite Part:
I'm going to have to give this to the characters, particularly our titular minotaur, in a short span the author manages to give us a strong indication of his personality, beliefs and history without a single moment of it feeling like an info dump. Which makes for some excellent moments when he runs into other characters and we the audience know what to expect while other characters are still in the dark.

Honourable mentioned to the quality of the writing. Things flowed smoothly, and the language was unobtrusive, and on occasions quite clever. I've particularly enjoyed the various beginning of chapter quotes for their combination of world building and entertainment value. 

Least Favourite Part:
My only real complaint about the opening of Locking Horns is that at times it can feel unfocused. Nimbus has a large cast he wants to introduce, which necessitates a lot of perspective hopping. And while it is well executed, almost every time we switched perspectives I wasn't ready to give up the previous character's narrative yet, which meant I spent the first few paragraphs (or heck in the case of mid chapter POV changes the rest of the chapter), sulking and less invested that I'd otherwise be.

Feeling was particularly strong when we finally have what feels like the two perspectives we've been flopping between all stitched together and another new perspective was introduced. Argh. Granted it was a good chapter, and by the end I saw how it was all going to fit into the narrative but it was still driving my a little crazy. My hope is once the cast is all together the POV switches feel more natural as everything is intimately related.

Every so often I found Clair's reasoning for particular decisions a little unclear, but nothing immersions shattering.

Overall, Locking Horns is an excellent read, and easily one of the best examples I've read in its genre. Give it a shot, I don't think you'll be disappointed. 

5/5


Atk 0 Crit All ~My attack stat is negligible, so I can't help but rely on critical hits to succeed!~

This is part of a series of reviews where I read the first 50 pages of the book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading. 

And with ATK 0 CRIT All, the answer was a resounding yes. (With one caveat: skip the prologue) If you're in the market for a slice of life isekai with a lot of the classic tropes this is it. It's maybe not the most original story out there, but if you've got an appetite for more slice of life-esque iskeai, you'll find ATK 0 CRIT All sates your hunger. It has fun characters, an entertaining execution on its premise, and thus far pretty excellent pacing. The main thing holding it back is the quality of the writing, the grammar is passable and never acts to impede your understanding, but some sentence become overburdened with filler words, andd adverbs which can leave them feeling cludgy. Despite these niggles, I found the it an enjoyable read, so if a slice-of-life fantasy isekai, with a hint of romance is your cup of tea pull up a seat and start reading.

 Favourite Part

Pacing - a lot of the chapters are short and sweet, and I left each one feeling either satisfied, or curious to read the next one. While it may be a slice of life novel I never felt like any of the chapters where just killing time. Instead it felt like things moved along at pleasant pace. Additional in the few instances where I saw foreshadowing applied the payoff was satisfying, and left me feeling clever when I knew what was happening before our protagonist, which makes for a satisfiying reading experience.

Honourable mention to the characters, Claude and Eryn are easy to root for which is essential for a slice of life novel, and the side characters are, if occasionally a bit one note, lively and colourful when they're in the limelight.  

Least Favourite Part

Filtering. The story is told in a first person perspective, so we're well and truly aware that everything we're experiencing is through Claude's perspective. Which makes inclusion of words to remind us that Claude is seeing or hearing or whatever particularly bothersome. They serve to make his experiences feel less concrete, especially when paired with adverbs, which are often used to further hedge his experiences and make them less real. 

As you may have guessed, the prologue is my true least favourite part. But, I've chosen to highlight the more technical elements above over the prologue, because you can skip it. You lose out on nothing except several minutes of suffering by skipping it. Maybe once you've read through all the other chapters and are itching for more come back and take a look at it, because it is the worst possible start to story. 

 

Overall, I found it an enjoyable experience, and I'm eager to read more. The synopsis seems to promise me that later volumes will explore the hints of romance we're seeing in the first few chapters so I'll be curious to see how that pans out. 

4.5/5


A Super Robot Story

This is part of a series of reviews where I read the first 50 pages of the book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading. 

EDIT: This review has been updated to reflect substantial edits made by the author

Continued? Yes.

A Super Robot Story can at times be frustrating to read due to weird stylistic conventions ' ' For dialogue and " " for thoughts continues to confound me. Requiring occasional re-reading of entire passages after realizing a particularly line was not said aloud. 

However, revisions have tightened the plot & taken a character who originally felt flat and uninteresting and given them personality. To the point where I was able to get invested in their story. Chapter 0 - 4 has a fairly slice of life feel, with a plot that slowly meanders forward, but where progression occurs it is fairly interesting.

If you like Mecha you won't be disappointed with the mecha aspects of the this novel, and with the revisions you won't be disappointed with the MC either. Give it a shot. 

Favourite Part: 
The author has invested all of the mechs with loving detail. The planning and construction that occurs in the story is detailed and thoughtful. The descriptions of the various mech's that exist and their place within the world is interesting. And the mech fights are demonstrated to the reader with loving care and attention.

If you love mecha, the mecha parts of the fiction won't let you down!

Character) You've done a great job giving a clear and consistent character to Tsun/Lyle. Especially in contrast to the way it was prior to revision, her character really shone. 


Least Favourite Part:

Style/Errors) As mentioned above, the stylistic choices regarding going dialogue versus thoughts. 7 chapters in and I'm still not used to it and have to keep reminding myself of which parts Tsun is saying aloud vs thinking.

Additionally, there are nigilling little grammatical issues that pop up from time to time. Resign papers is a particularly teeth grinding one for me. These sometimes manifest in awkward sentences or, in the aforementioned case sentences that feel like broken English.  

Accurary) Since you've decided to encorporate elements of puberty into your story I wish you'd look over one of those puberty charts that shows the common age ranges for certain developments. It feels like everything has been shifted to be late. A minor problem, but for me is was the proverbial sliver you can't get out, in terms of annoyance.

Overall

It's not a perfect fiction, but the reading experience is enjoyable and the cliff at the end of chapter 5 certainly has my attention. I'm eager to see where the next 50 pages take this. In my first review I said if you: "insert either a strong introduction to the central conflict or explore the characterization of Lyle/Tsun more and you've got a significantly more compelling story to complement the mecha elements." And you've executed the latter admirably, and I think the story is stronger for it. If you're looking for an interesting mecha fiction, stop your search and start reading.

4/5


Ghostified City

This is part of a series of reviews where I read the first 50 pages of the book and give a verdict on if I wish to continue reading. 

Ghostified City is an interesting fiction, that explores a world where humans, and humanity is fading away, replaced with an increasing robotic and fake world. The result is a compelling piece of dystopian literature, which the authors explores through the evolution of Adaman and his awakening to the steady loss of the spark of human ingenuity. Both the characters and plot are intriguing, and the dystopian setting is fascinating and well crafted. But, ultimately the story failed to hook me, because I found reading it to be exhausting. Primarily because I found the prose unenjoyable. With that said, if dystopian fiction is at all up your alley, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, with any luck you'll find the prose less off putting than I and will be able to settle in to enjoy an intriguing piece of speculative fiction.

Favourite Part

The best part is the setting. The concepts at play intermingle into an interesting admixture, exploring ideas of automation, voluntary ethunesia, religion, media control and what it means to be human. All those interesting juicy elements that make for excellent speculative fiction, layered on top of a tight spatial location in the City and the unique culture of the humans living there. Though I will admit to finding the dealing of some political issues a touch heavy handed. 

I'll also give an honourable mention to the characters, while I do have questions about how society and a person could fall apart over the course of a decade, to the point where people have largely stopped communicating altogether. But Adaman's character, as someone who had lost all of that is interesting, and the development towards re-discovering it is intriguing and doesn't feel rushed. The other characters he runs into are also a delightful contrast to him.

Least Favourite Part

The prose. I would describe it serviceable, it will take you from point A to point B, with it doesn't inspire emotion or interest. There is frequent repetition of similar phrases or elements to covey the same message. Sometimes I'll read a sentence and just wonder if it served any purpose at all. Unfortunately, the prose ends up serving as a filter for the excellent parts of the story weakening the impact, and distancing the reader from world.

There are also occasional grammatical errors and typos, as well as infrequent sentences with means that are difficult to parse. Although those have a much lesser impact on the story than the general blandness of a lot of the prose. 

Ultimately, I think Ghostified City is a copy editor away from being a truly excellent story. Without which, it is unfortunately just good.

3.5/5