Vera Anne Wolfe

Vera Anne Wolfe

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Tower of Somnus

Overall: I am still getting used to the litRPG genre, but not much knowledge is required to enjoy a good story written at a pace that both welcomes you in and keeps you eager to read further as a world of potential opens up. Kat is a character I look forward to seeing embrace the Tower and achieving her goal of liberating her mother and sisters from the corporate world she just left behind, though I’m sure more than a few stumbling blocks will get in her way.

Style: The pace is very quick, and though the opening chapters did not have any action, they immediately set you up with a good impression of the main characters Kat and Arnold. (Edit: There is actually action in the opening chapters, but they are broken up with world-building before Kat enters the game.)The writing is clean and to the point. At times it felt too clean and scripted, but given the rough draft state, I’m sure more personality and style will come later.

Story: By chapter seven, I’m already very much rooting for Kat while waiting for Arnold to eat dirt and deeply invested in Dorrik, who I hope will stick around to teach Kat more about the game. The potential of the still as yet unexplored dungeon and all its floors is something I anticipate; as well as the inevitable conflict of other players, particularly those funded by the corporation.

Grammar: One or two things pointed out along the way. An incredible job really, given its rough draft status. Only one point that I recall threw me from the story trying to figure out what the sentence should say.

Character: I admit, I did want a bit more from Kat, but even now I find her strong, compelling, and admirable. The risks she took to better her life and potentially her family's life before entering this world earned my respect and sympathy; but of course, she’s a sucker for a pretty face like so many of us. I look forward to the development that is likely to come, but I’m honestly just hoping she can accomplish what she’s risked so much for—a better life for herself and her family.

Arnold comes across as that cuddled, over-protected, over-confident kid that never had to struggle for anything. Something that will likely get him killed in the Tower, especially when coupled with his stubbornness and ego.

Dorrik (sp?) is just all-around interesting, and competent, and a great teacher. More exciting characters are likely waiting in the chapters ahead, so if this summary has piqued your interest, I encourage you to give this story a try. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed.


HavenGuarde

The Underdog’s Hidden Strength

Overall: The prologue of this story was a bit chaotic, but it does set up a bit of backstory that directly relates to our MC Thonavar. That said, the amount of vague mystery within it leaves a lot more questions than answers as far as I’ve read, though I’m hopeful they will come later.

Thonavar is the son of a laborer and his family is poor. In a newly created world since the Great Flash, he struggles against the bias of his birth (which happened on the day of the Great Flash), his oddly colored hair, and his lowly status. A chance to rise above his station and into City Above is presented by Felix, one of the cities Guardians. How that chance will play out, and what role he will obtain in the future, and how that will all relate to his very dangerous past is basically the plot of the story.

Style: The flow and pace of the story were good. The expositions kept brief and used where relevant. The details efficient enough to paint a picture of the world and the environment. The writing was engaging and active enough to keep my interest.

Story: As summarized above, the story has potential. The vagueness of some of the important details present in the prologue, however, seems intentional, and I’ve only read till the end of chapter 5 (12k words in total roughly) so its possible those answers will come later when Thonavar’s past reemerges.

I did find the bias against Thonavar a bit heavy-handed at times. Was no other baby born the day of the Great Flash? Couldn’t his odd color hair be a reaction to the destruction that shook the world, rather than prove he is the cause of it? If this is so widely believed why do they allow him to attend college like a normal person? Why does that college turn a blind eye to all the bullying he is subjected too? Just because of a difference in class/wealth?

^Because of the above, society as a whole seems pretty shit. It also feels like Thonavar is the only poor boy being beaten down on because we have no one else to compare him too that isn’t an entitled shit trying to beat him up. Pretty much my only gripe with the story so far is the lack of comparison that just makes it all feel forced by design. Hopefully, some more redeemable characters will emerge later.

Grammar: There was a noticeable amount of improper capitalization throughout (See chapter notes), but otherwise nothing that disrupted the read.

Character: With the writings odd blend of omniscient/third-person point of view we are given enough of Thonavar’s goals and struggles to grasp his character. This makes me believe he has no memory of his past (from the prologue) another intriguing mystery.


Witch Tier

Steampunk, Chipmunks, and a Witch Tier. Need I say more?

Overall: The story begins with Rivna and her two comrades in search of a crystal in a forbidden cave, which goes about as well as such a set up would make you expect. Further along, we meet Loc, a prince whose kingdom is now under the tyrannical control of the Queen of Queens. You have steampunk ships, steampunk weapons, and a Witch Tier, who has powers of a witch wielding ice magic as well as some curious steam abilities. Add on the humanoid lizardmen and chipmunk races. A couple of crazy psycho-killing princess, and a green-haired non-human bounty hunter whose now been sent after Loc and you have a whirlwind of potential presented in the unusual style of a script.

Style: As a scriptwriting piece, there is the usual lack of dialogue tags that are substituted by the Characters Name: which works well for those familiar who pay attention to the warning that this is a script. This also means this fewer exposition, world-building, descriptors, transitions, and at times detailed action as well.

You will find some action scenes well described, but in other areas, objects or weapons seem to jump into being (or out of thin air) as they become necessary to the stories script. It can be a bit jarring, and while I can accept this might be a natural flaw of scripting writing, it did not work for me since it left quite a bit of confusion (see chapter comments).

What this story does do well is character dialogue, which can range from corny, to comical, to brilliant. It definitely amused, occasionally gave some much-needed details, and kept the writing active. I would consider this a bonus to scriptwriting that does tend to heavily rely on dialogue.

Story: The story in and of itself is fine. The steampunk world is well presented. The overall quest of Loc is defined. The nemesis were disturbingly unnerving. Heldine’s obsession for Loc on top of her monstrous strength for one. But where the story did present a bit of a weak link was the backstory of the Witch Tier, which Rivna seemed to be almost conveniently sacrificed to become. And the worldbuilding as far as the different races, kingdoms, biases, and circumstances that are causally presented yet not very well expounded upon. Again, I would consider that a flaw of scriptwriting, not necessarily a flaw on the part of the writer, but the pace with which we jump from scene to scene with only sparing details meant to provide us what we need to know of this world left me more than a little bit confused by the time I reached chapter 8. I almost wish there had been a chart of some kind to better break this down on top of a world map perhaps.

Grammar: I recall a few places that were awkwardly worded but nothing major.

Character Score: Solid. Interesting. Unique. Definitely Memorable characters. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Rivna at the end of chapter one, but I definitely see hope for her as the story continues. Possibly a love interest between her and Loc as well. Overall an enjoyable cast of very vibrant characters who each have a role to play.


Reborn in Another World as a (Colorless) Demon Prince

Overall Score: Kieran has reborn as a sheltered prince of a demon race. He appears to be treated differently because of his Colorless nature/status and he is just beginning to learn magic at the age of 10 instead of age 3 as most of his race does. The why to this has yet to be explained, but its an interesting premise. How will his newly found ability *spoiler* change his current status as a Colorless Prince? How will the war between humans and demon impact his future as a prince of this kingdom? Will we ever meet and get to know other members of his family and see why he is classified as colorless? Lots of questions.

Style Score: The style and flow of the story is pretty well written. I did not feel overwhelmed with expositions and the writing was quite active with some nicely detailed descriptions throughout. However, one thing that stood out to me from the get-go was the writers almost visceral resistance to using his MC’s name. To the point that I’m still not sure what the MC’s name in his original life was. Another issue would be the way the writer would describe a reaction before letting the reader know what the character was reacting too. This created some confusion and disruption to the reader.

Story Score: While the writing was active, the actions and events of the stories up to the end of chapter 5 are all very passive and slow-paced. Even the Truck-kun incident was described in such a way, I hardly reacted to it at all. Reading the story, in a way, makes me feel half-asleep because I’m waiting for something lively to happen to wake me up. (Note: the author does warn the opening is slow but this is where the review exchange ended)

Another issue is that while some elements of the story are presented: such as being Colorless, having only one horn, and certain parts of Kieran’s training. The why they are that way, what they mean, why they are important are often left out. This is another point of confusion and even frustration because I don’t know if I’ll ever get an answer or how much longer everything will remain vague and mysterious.

Even if the action of this story does pick up after chapter 6 (according to the author note in the synopsis) you can keep readers engaged with more intuitive world-building rather than vague details, some of which appear to contradict themselves. Training at 10 vs 3. Why? The war when Teal asked for a raise, the War that started later between demons and humans. Who were they at war with before? (See comments for more details.)

In fact, after reading 5 chapters, I learned very little that wasn’t already presented in the short synopsis of this story. Holding back some information as a mystery is fine, but when it comes to worldbuilding, I don’t see a reason for this. The more I know, the more I'll care. The more that's left unknown, the less I have to care about.

Grammar Score: Other than the occasional missing word and oddly structured sentences, I didn’t notice anything major.

Character Score: This is a difficult one for me. I think the character Kieran is such a passive-aggressive soul that its hard to really connect with him and understand what his goals and frustrations are because there is no real high point for him as far as interest or emotions. He gets mildly irritated, mildly curious, etc. Mild or disinterested is pretty much his state of mind. When his emotions do kick into high gear, its because of performance anxiety or fear of failure which appears to be a weakness. Perhaps something that carried over from his previous life where it took him three years to pass senior year and graduate. This, however, should not be seen as a fault, rather than his actual personality. That said...he might feel a bit more realistic if he actually cared about something. So far his interests are reading and sleeping. So while I can't say I enjoyed his personality or character development so far, I won't knock it either because it appears to serve a purpose.

The other characters Alexandra and Teal appear to play the role of good cop, bad cop as far as acting as his attendants and training him. Though, I would describe Alexandra as more overly strict than a bad person.


The Ogre's Pendant & The Rat in the Pit (Completed)

 

The Ogre’s Pendant is like a breath of fresh air for those who enjoy a well-crafted omniscient fantasy, reminiscent of Tolkien in its ability to weave a story, characters and world-building together to paint an epic tale well worth the read. The magic, despicable villains, ogres, and not so shiny heroes are very much alive, and each struggle towards their purpose that (for ill or for good) has brought them all in search of The Egg of Gergorix.

I found nothing to critique in this story beyond differences of preferences in pace, style, and exposition, which I know better than to comment on as a writer myself. The Grammar was flawless. The word choices remarkably unique and well-executed. The characters so far, as mentioned above, vibrant and intriguing. The Ogre’s Pendant is a hardy tale to sink one’s teeth into, preferably with a nice flagon of ale, or whatever choice drink is closest. Adventure awaits—do you dare to begin?


The Prophecy of an Ancient Bloodline

A Defiant-Expectant Mother against the World Survival/litRPG

This is an interesting story of a pregnant MC fighting for the survival of her species/clan, which relies on her own survival and that of her unborn child. The manner in which the child was conceived through magic is a driving force of mystery and hidden potential for this story, but (at least as far as I read), the child’s mother, Vivian, is no less interesting and important. Equal parts Fantasy and litRPG, there are plenty of boxes with interesting, pertinent information that give it a game type feel, but as Vivian is still getting to know this system, which she calls Sasha, it still very much a real world with monsters and other races hunting her down to avoid the prophecy of the child she caries.

There were a few awkard sentences through out, most of the time they did not interrupt the read.

As far as characters, once Vivian was on her own, the reader was quickly introduced to Sasha (the system) who is both helpful, flawed, and has a sense of humor.

There is also Isa, who I will leave you to meet, who quickly becomes a favorite.

Overall the pace, while slow, is entertaining enough to hold my interest. I like that the protagonist, Vivian, wasn’t some throw away “Mother of the Chosen One” which is what it feels like this child could become. I like her logic, reasoning, that she can still panic but is also just as likely to fight tooth and nail to keep herself and her baby alive.

So if you don’t mind a slow pace, with a “surviving on your own against the whole world and monsters while pregnant” spin to litRPG, this story might just be worth checking out.

The boxes are also pretty to look at 😉


Vagrant — CYBERPUNK / SCI-FI

Overall: I found the story intoxicating, once you get past a bit of an intro/exposition, the active world of Vagrant takes hold and takes you for one hell of a ride. That said there were a few quirks about the MC, Desirae, that kept me from giving this an otherwise perfect score. Don’t let that deter you from enjoying what could potentially be an otherwise riveting read of science fiction spliced with fantasy. This is a world where augmentations make you almost superhuman; and they also happen to be illegal.

Style: The exposition/intro start I mentioned above is one of the things that did not work for me. I don’t like starting with the “details”, especially when the cover and synopsis have me hyped for the action that is to come. I also don’t see why these details couldn’t have been broken down and delivered in the following active scenes. Something I would encourage the author to consider, as that was a sizable chunk of the opening chapter.

Story: Once I got to the active part of the story and Desirae's ill-conceived plan to trade a list of names to a notorious gang leader, known as DeVille; paying attention was no longer a problem. However, this is where the characters quirks started to rub me the wrong way. She is described as smart, Einstein even, in the intro/exposition (perhaps that was sarcasm) and goes on to say how her “street smarts” have kept her out of trouble so far. BUT she willingly walks into a meeting with DeVille, who she knows already by reputation and things go sideways fast. Like, newb walks into the boss room and pulled agro with no healer or dps support fast.

She is salvaged by the good graces (and greed) of said gang lord—and as she reveling in all the shit her decisions tonight have now landed her in (none of which she cared to consider before apparently) I felt no inclination, whatsoever to feel sorry for her.

Grammar: A few (possible) missing words that I pointed out and I’m sure will be remedied, but otherwise nothing I can recall at this point.

Character/Daddy Issues: I mentioned my lack of empathy for the MC’s plight. The intro/exposition made me feel one way about her father; then we meet him and I was instantly jarred that he didn’t match up to the 'horrible neglective dad' the synopsis and intro prepared me for. No big deal, but the way she wines about him not giving her attention, while she intentionally goes behind his back and places them both in danger, his career in jeopardy, oh but she enjoys the perks of the family name (dad’s a big shot politician) kind of kept me on the fence about her.

Like is she just spoiled? Naive? Does she just complain about everything, even the shit she gets herself into, because of Daddy issues? Where is Mom in this picture? Why doesn’t she get her fair share?

And why are Daddy Issues the sole justification for an eighteen-year-old to slink around the slums with an illegally obtained list of names to trade to a gang lord who she believes could kill her and her family?

The WHY is this plot even happening this way is probably my only complaint about the book at all. If I understood why then I might understand Desirae better. I might understand her motivations and weaknesses better. I see where the plot is going, and I like it, I’m just not sure how we arrived.


Righteous Sovereign, Shameless Rogue (hiatus/rewrite)

Overall: The writer's prose presents most of the visual aspects of this story with enough detail to grab my attention. Although relatively unfamiliar with this genre, I am fond of the manga cultivation vibe it reminds me of. That said this is a story that will require patience from the reader as plotline dots connect. The main characters that I’ve read so far are still a bit of a mystery to me, but they both seem to possess power with plenty of dominating potential.

Style: The writer tends to leave names of what appear to be important characters intentionally vague. (See chapter comments). I appreciate a bit of mystery, but too much can leave me feeling stranded like a beggar outside the door with a bowl hoping for a little more than strips of meat left on a bone. I want the meat of this story now, not later. There’s a difference between reserving necessary parts of the plots and making the whole plot too obscure.

Also, the writer uses generic nouns such as ‘young youth’, ‘young man’, ‘crowned youth’ more often than the character names themselves which make the reading a bit unnecessarily confusing. It’s one thing to provide variety so names don’t get repetitive, but not to this extent.

Story: The pace of the story and the wide range of characters offers plenty of intrigue and interest. But, as mentioned above, I’m not sure I grasp where the story is going? I do feel it is leaning towards an Anti-Hero as the MC(s). So far no one strikes me as typical hero material (Kind, self-sacrificing, harem of women, blah blah). But the motives and desires—even the characters themselves are still largely unknown.

Grammar: Nothing that jarred me from the story at all, a few possible typos if that. One or two awkward sentences that I pointed out.

Character: As a reader, I expect a bit more of a connection to characters than some web novels provide. Understanding their personality, motivations, struggles, weaknesses, and strengths is what appeals to me the most in stories. That said the omniscient POV this story is presented in does place a barrier of sorts between the reader and character, so character development (if any) will probably be a bit less prominent compared to the action and tension of the story promises.


The Cursed Witch (Book One)

Overall: Cateline, a trouble princess, finds herself faced with the prospect of suitors and imminent marriage. But in a kingdom where elves have been all but massacred by the dominating human monarchy, being a princess (even one with forbidden powers) is not as easy as it seems. Whether its facing suitors or assassins or a new school of mixed-race students, Cateline’s journey will be far from easy. But with a bit of luck, some new companions, and of course some magic, Cateline’s real journey to becoming an Ice Witch will now begin.

The writer’s description of magic is honestly what I love most about this story. So if you love reading about magic and the potential it has to change the world, this book is definitely worth trying out.

Style: The writer is still in the first draft phases so a couple bumpy word choices or phrases may have given me pause. Also the shifts from present to past. But it wasn’t enough to distract my enjoyment of the overall story.

Story: If there was one specific spot in the story that made me befuddled it was Cateline’s parents. I felt like their reaction, decisions, and overall intelligence was a bit shallow. They were so “papercut out” I wondered how the kingdom even survived under their rule, let alone how they survived not being assassinated up to this point.

Grammar: Other than tense, which I put under style, no problems here. Kudos.

This is a Fantasy-Magic worth checking out. There is more than one character to fall in love with as the story progresses and the potential of this magic school and its students more than excites me. So give it  a shot and see what you think 😊


A Stranger in Sorcererstown (The Stranger Trails Saga)

Overall: So far the story has a nice mixture of magic, mystery, and mischief (hence the title). We begin with the every so mysterious Stranger (MC ML) who is mystifying in more ways than one. He is young/old with white hair, a powerful set of weapons that use magic, and a strange malady that kicks in when he uses his magic too much. The pills he uses to fight the symptoms of this illness are running low; and he has come to Sorceress Town (a dangerous place that even the locals have abandoned due to the infighting between magic schools) of all places—presumably to find a cure?

But, as with his true name, identity, and practically every other characteristic, I am not sure what his true agenda is for coming to Sorceress Town. But I’m sure that the reader (and the town's current occupants) are in for a nasty surprise if they continue to underestimate him.

Style: There were a few places in the story where details were more told than shown, that to me, felt like a missed opportunity, but as a stylistic choice, I don’t think they detracted from the read too much. There were, however, more than a number of bumpy sentences, missing words, misused words(?), and such that I’m sure can be fixed with a bit of editing and rewriting. Some of those created unnecessary disruption, confusion, or simply did not make sense. (See chapter notes)

Fight scenes in particular were the hardest sections to follow because of the overuse of the generic noun ‘he’. I often had to stop, rethink, or simply guess which ‘mercenary’ was being described.

Story: I like the premise of the story because the MC Stranger has a lot of potential. The world-building is also well done. It gives you enough to grasp a bit of what’s going on and also makes you curious for more of what’s to come. I do wish we could have seen a bit more of what magic can do, but I believe that will come a bit further than what I read (up to the end of Chapter 4)

Grammar: Nothing to quibble about. Imo the story as a whole just needs a fresh set of eyes or some basic editing software to help the writer smooth out those awkward/confusing sentences mentioned in Style.

Characters: I was not 100% sold on the characters. With Stranger, I was disappointed that I could not connect to him on an intimate level whatsoever. He is very much a “stranger” to me even though he is the character I’m expected to connect with, root for, and follow through the story.

Who is he? What’s wrong with him? Where did he come from? What does he want in Sorceress town? A little mystery is fine but he’s a literal ghost to me. And after following him for 10k words (4 chapters) I had hoped to glean a little bit more. Silent type and moody sure. Overconfident, well compared to the riffraff he’s had to fight, not unnecessarily so. Kind? Enough I would say. Certainly has no problem killing when required. But otherwise *spreads hands dramatically* no idea.

I do feel like this might be an intentional choice on the writer's side, but for me, it doesn’t work because I can’t invest in a character I know nothing about.

The side characters thus far lack even more character depth. The “intelligence” of these thugs and even Annabelle is a bit lackluster given they run this “important?” town. I hope more intelligent opponents will present themselves, but maybe this is but a temporary stop in the MC’s quest for his “mysterious goal”? Who knows? I certainly don’t, so you dear reader will have to read on to find out.

If you like silent characters that keep everything close to the chest and don’t reveal their inner thoughts and emotions I think you’ll enjoy Stranger for the badass he has already made himself out to be. Definitely worth a read.