Sii

Sii

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Queenscage

Meaty, Chunky goodness

Overall:

Fraught is the word that came to mind as I read through this politically charged, intriguing story. I don't even know how to use fraught properly in a sentence, but I think it would be something like "this story is fraught with political machinations." With little fanfare, we are thrown into the world of Queenscage and the author expects you to take your time and figure out who is who and what the hell is going on. I, personally, like the approach of letting the readers meander as they try to get their bearings and figure out which way is up. The author does an excellent job of introducing the characters with an air of mystery. Our MC, Seraphina, immediately comes off as cunning and mistrusting. There are a good amount of POV changes and I think this works in the story's favor since it is quite obvious there's much to learn about the world. The worldbuilding just might be my favorite aspect of the story, what with the author's plentiful use of in-world terms that make things feel foreign yet recognizable. Unfortunately, the worldbuilding tends to get in the way of the character building, at least this is the case early on. I will come back and amend this statement as I find time to read more if I feel things change.

Also, the chapters are meaty! And I think that's a good thing. They read like traditionally published chapters. This definitely gives up more time with each POV character.

Story & Grammar:

The two strongest points for me. The hints of story that we get and the intrigue surrounding the MC and the rest of the cast. We learn, right off the bat really, that sometimes being the winner might not be the best thing to happen. As a Victor, Seraphina joins a family. That family seems to be filled with homicidal superpower wielding folks who do as they please, even as far as killing and maiming with little to no repercussions. Seraphina herself is just as homicidal, within the first few chapters she causes an incident that involves the blowing up of buildings. Like I said in the overall section, this story is fraught with political machinations and intrigue. I look forward to finding some time to read more so I can figure out more of the plot.

As far as grammar goes, I found little that detracted from the experience. Maybe a few parts that slipped through the editing cracks but nothing major that pulled me out of my immersion. I did enjoy how thoroughly the lingo of the world permeates the writing, it really shows that the worldbuilding and the cultures of the world are on the author's mind.

Style & Character:

While I would say that these were the weakest bits, that doesn't mean by much. Especially for Character as I expect there to be more character-building moments the further I read.

Character gets a 4 because there are so many characters and POV's that the reader is plopped right into. The length of each chapter helps bolster our understanding of each character, even if by a little. Seraphina comes off strong and capable almost immediately. The rest of her supporting cast is distinct and I look forward to learning more about them. Still, time will need to be invested to truly get to know each character. What does play in the characters favor is the fact that they feel familiar as if I've already read about them before. This doesn't mean that they aren't unique, just that they fill a familiar archetype and makes it easier to get to know them.

The style might not be for everyone. Multi-POV often isn't and that's fine. A couple chapters might even be a bit jarring as they jump from one POV character to another. But I found it to my liking as I enjoy multi-POV. Other than that, I found the style enjoyable.

Conclusion:

I enjoyed my time reading, enough that I'll be coming back to this one as soon as I find the time to do so. Queenscage is fraught with political and interpersonal machination that is quite scintillating. The MC is a strong female lead who shows flashes of cunning and is a thinking person's type of lead. As a character, I think Seraphina has huge potential for growth. As a story tool, it'll be fun watching her make her way through the muddy and murky landscape that is her family politics.

For readers who like their chapters chunky, this one is for you. Each chapter is lengthy and will give you plenty to sink your teeth into.

I will be following along and reading as I find the time. You're doing great author!


Collapse Point Harmony

Overall:

I come out of this story very confused but still intrigued. As I gather my thoughts, I float to a very cyberpunk/sleuth-noir feel. It's interesting and there are some things that need work, but the interest is there. A bit hard to get into and through due to the stylistic choices made by the author, I found myself using a text-to-speech function so I could more easily parse what was going on. Apart from that, I think there is enough of an interesting base for prospective readers.

Character & Grammar:

The stronger points, the author has crafted some very interesting characters. Sid, the MC, is an interesting dude who seems to be caught in some interesting situations. Without spoiling too much about the story, the world the story is set in is so confusing and this makes it intriguing in and of itself. The world itself, I would say, is a character with the number of things going on. The grammar is well handled. A few mistakes here and there but nothing too out there, all it would take is some editing passes. 

Style & Story:

By far, Style is the weakest point of this work. The first chapter takes some interesting stylistic liberties with very chunky paragraphs that make it hard to get through. All chapters afterwards are left-aligned, making it feel odd to the eye for most who are used to reading things from a right-aligned perspective. I also felt that the author used commas a little too liberally, which is why we end up with some very long and clunky sentences that make the reading experience harder.

There was also the use of apostrophes to denote dialog rather than quotation marks. I choose to believe that these are stylistic choices but as it is, I have to mark it low due to just how odd it is to read. In all, there are style problems that would benefit from having an outside, unbiased eye taking a look and giving the author feedback.

The story is confusing and there is no way to get around saying so. A few chapters have multiple perspectives that come off as head-hopping. This is an issue as it makes it hard for the reader to keep up when we're jumping from one character to another without clear distinction. And this muddiness adds to the confusion of the story. Like I said earlier, I had to use a text-to-speech app to help me parse out what was going on due to some of the stylistic choices. 

Conclusion:

Despite my criticisms, I still enjoyed the story. What we have here, at its base, is an interesting premise wrapped up in style choices that can be easily remedied and adjusted if that is the route the author decides on. I am still a bit confused, yes, but what I have latched on to holds my interest. I look forward to the authors growth as a writer and the evolution of the story.


Deshawn Dale and the Hidden World

Overall:

Deshawn Dale reminds me of those classic YA novels that I grew up on. The Percy Jackson's and Harry Potter's and such. But funnier and with familiar faces that make me want to root for the success of the story. It's nice to see more and more representation in stories and that's my favorite part, DD feels like a friend I grew up with. I look forward to getting to read more and diving deeper into the Hidden World. It's a really fun read with a charismatic, goofy MC who you can't help but root for. I have high expectations for DD and the world the author is building. 

Character & Story:

DD is quite the character. It's refreshing to have an MC who doesn't take themselves too seriously and is the comedic relief. While the supporting cast is being filled out, DD easily carries the story with his wit and charisma. Quincy, his older brother, is also an enigmatic figure who I hope gets some page time. The hint of story we get is scintillating. I feel the author has dropped some smart foreshadowing that has me, as a reader, looking forward to how they handle the reveals. I hope DD goes through some character development but not too much. At least, I hope he stays true to his goofy self that we currently have. I look forward to seeing how the cast of characters is filled out. 

Style & Grammar:

Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of reading 1st person, present tense. But this was handled beautifully and I feel it enhances our enjoyment of DD and the world around him, at least what little we know so far. I noticed a few instances where deeper edits could have helped shore up some of the grammatical problems and redundancies but it wasn't anything that was completely immersion breaking. That is the only thing I'd suggest, really, is maybe getting another writer friend to take a look and do some light proofreading to catch some of the mistakes that fall through the cracks. Other than that, I think the style was well handled and the grammar and language used was light enough to warrant this story being classified as a YA fiction. The prose isn't too heavy or too beige, it all flows well and is easy to grasp and understand.  
Conclusion:

I enjoyed what I read and will definitely be checking back in when I have a larger backlog to read. The author is crafting an interesting world where, I'm assuming here, people with powers reside. The MC oozes personality and is a welcome breath of fresh air with how funny he is. He doesn't take himself too seriously and even seems to bumble his way through from one situation to another. And I like it a lot. 


Tales of a Grim World.

Overall:

What we have here is a very grimdark fantasy that can be quite enjoyable. With its multiple POV's I think there's plenty for readers who enjoy darker fantasy. We get some wish-fulfillment power fantasy, revenge pron, and escape pron all in the first handful of chapters. My only gripe is how beige the writing can be at times. Beige being that there are certain moments, such as the training bit, where doing less telling and more showing would help make the reading experience more visceral. While I'm still getting to know most of the characters I can say that the author has done a pretty good job of differentiating them from one another. The only one who seems a bit out of place, and I haven't read too far in, is Camille. I think I can give it a go and continue reading seeing as there is a strong base here to keep my interest.

Character & Story:

The two strongest points thus far. I think the author excels at making distinct, very hateable antagonists. The Baron and Aveline are so wonderfully hateful. The hints of the story we get so far are scintillating and I look forward to learning more about the world that the author is building. My only issue was in the beige writing. Aveline and the Baron can be so much more hateable, as antagonists, if they were given a little more time to breathe and become fleshed out. Show us how despicable the Baron is rather than telling us. I'm not trying to tell the author how to write but that's just some advice I'd like to pass along. Overall, though, I think there is a strong enough base here for it to be an enjoyable read.

Style & Grammar:

The weakest points, I understand that English is not the authors strongest point and I'm not holding that against them. I am just providing fair and honest feedback on my experience. There were plenty of points where grammar could be tightened up with some editing and some proofreading but this did not detract from my reading experience. If anything, I think this is a great attempt by someone whose first language isn't English. The prose teeters between being a bit purple and bloated and being very beige and lean. Knowing how to balance when to show and when to tell takes a while to learn and I think the author is doing a great job of growing as they continue to write. Style is also something that takes some time to develop and polish and I think the author is on their way to developing their own style. 

Conclusion:

In all, a very enjoyable, if grim and dark, read. For fans of grimdark, I think this one is right up their alley. The action is gritty and visceral. The characters have enough identity to stand on their own. And the overall story that's being hinted to just sounds really cool and full of intrigue. I plan to come back to this one and continue reading when I have the time to do so.


Musical Land Trilogy

Overall:

If chips were put in our heads that forced us to sing and dance, we'd be living in Musical Land. I really enjoyed what I read so far and plan to read more when I get the time to do so. In a world where Science and Math are deemed evil, what happens to the people who just want to pursue those studies?

I found very little to complain about during my read. As you read, you'll get an eerie sense of familiarity. Learning about the rules and inner-workings of Musical Land brought about a soft sense of disquiet for me, maybe because it's an effective commentary piece on the world at large. Marie feels real and I'm sure she will continue to grow as a character the further one reads. We get to learn about Musical Land right along with Marie since she's pretty much a fish out of water. Being a lover of the Sciences, she's treated pretty coldly. We don't get to see this much within the first 7-8 chapters but we do get a sense of detachment.

Story & Character:

Easily the two strongest points. Marie is reticent and demure while everyone else around her is a bit over the top. It's like she's a black and white character trapped in a colorful world. I think this works perfectly. The story is a bit of a slow burn by RR standards but I like the pacing. We're finally getting to see some of the cracks in the veneer of the ultra-perfect song and dance that is Musical Land some 7-8 chapters in. I keep wanting to compare it to Attack On Titan for some reason despite the two having absolutely nothing in common. But there's a grit that hides behind the facade of the story and I like it a lot.

Style & Grammar:

I wouldn't say these were weak, just a few problems I noticed that would occasionally detract from my immersion. Some repetitive word use made a few paragraphs and sentences feel clunky but nothing that can't be fixed with editing. There really wasn't much for me to harp on. I will say that the style of the writing is spot-on. If the author was trying to go for a YA audience then they've done an excellent job. The writing is clear, concise, and understandable. You don't have to be big brained to understand what's going on or what's being conveyed. I didn't find myself having to go back and reread things for clarity and I count that as a plus in my book.

Conclusion:

If the author ever decides to take this story self-pub/trad-pub then I think they'd find that there is a larger audience for this kind of writing. It was fun yet spooky. I can't really say why it felt spooky for me, just that something about a magical chip that forces people to act one way makes me feel some type of way. A highly enjoyable read, I hope more readers give it a chance.


Four Days

Overall:

This is an interesting read, to say the least. It takes some very heavy subject matter, namely Black American slavery, and creates a sort of isekai-esque fever dream. I'm still not too sure what was going on. Was the whole purpose of the short story to explore the afterlife? Or was it really an isekai/transmigration/reincarnation gone awry? I'll have to do a reread and piece my opinions together. What we do have is an interesting read. The chapters are very, very meaty with plenty to read. My only problem was that each chapter felt like they meandered a bit too much, taking their time to get to wherever they were going. The author did ask me to overlook any grammatical issues so I'm giving that category a score I think is fair.

Story & Character:

The story is interesting yet can be quite confusing. I feel like there were two MC's, Amare and Master J, so it made the reading a bit confusing trying to suss out from whose perspective we were actually reading. Being that they are basically joined at the hip, this isn't that big of a problem. The character of each individual comes through quite well, with Amare being the new eyes to a strange and wondrous world. I think the author did a great job communicating the fact that Amare has some heavy baggage he is unable to let go of.

Like I said in my Overall section, the jury is still out, for me at least, as to what the story is actually about. All I know is that I found it intriguing enough to want to continue reading. Even though it's only 4 chapters long, there is still enough meat to sink ones teeth into. Still, to answer the authors concerns, I feel that they have the bare bones of a legible and cognizant story. With some shaping and tightening up, they would have a very solid short story on their hands.

Style & Grammar:

I won't spend too much time going over these. For what it's worth, I am going off the assumption that English isn't the authors first language and I don't think this detracts in any way. The writing is rough and can use some work but that doesn't mean it's bad. Far from it, like I said earlier all that is needed is some tightening up and editing and the work itself will be solid. 

Conclusion:

An interesting, if confusing story. I enjoyed what I read and if ever there is a rewrite or anything of the sort, I'd be happy to give it another go. The take is interesting and how thoughtful the author is shines through. Being able to tackle a heavy subject matter while putting a personal twist on it is tough, I applaud the author for their efforts. Again, with some editing passes and tightening up I think the short story would be solid.


Wander West, in Shadow

Self-contained, interconnected grimdark

Overall:

Despite some clunkiness, I thoroughly enjoyed what is being served. It's been a really long time since I read a story that reads so classically that it was a bit of a shock to my system. The story is thick and familiar while also being fresh enough to not be boring. And the contents, boy do I enjoy dark stuff and this has that in spades. If you read only the first chapter, you'll be in for thinking that you're reading an old school fairytale. These expectations will be subverted but also fulfilled, there is an air of whimsy that's reminiscent of the original Brother's Grimm fairytales. There is a darkness that permeates the writing that really drew me in. 

Story & Character:

By and far the two strongest points of this story. I really enjoyed the return to form in bringing fairytales back to their cautionary, deeply disturbing roots. The name of the first tale, The Glimmerling, sounds incredibly whimsical. Like a name that a child came up with. Yet, we're thrown into a world that's very dark and brooding and I enjoyed that. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of whimsical tales. I find them too saccharine for my tastes. This story strikes the right balance of sweet whimsy and cautionary darkness. Martim and Elyse are very interesting characters in their own rights. We learn enough about them to make them interesting but the author keeps some secrets in reserve to string us along. The big reveal, and the tenuous tether that binds the initial story to, what I assume and was stated as, a larger world, is well handled and avoids the usual pitfall of "exposition drop, let me explain why this person is doing what they're doing."

I, personally, like Elyse a bit more. She's smart, sassy, and incredibly naive while also having secrets of her own that will be wonderful points for the author to expand on later. I guess I'm just a sucker for a good, smart female lead who can do things on their own. She's worryingly oblivious to how the world works and I hope that doesn't get her in trouble down the line.

Style & Grammar:

These two points go hand in hand and are the weakest points. As I said in my summary, this story reads like a classic. The language used and the mannerisms of the writer make it feel old. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes this bogs down the reading experience. My biggest gripe was the constant use of commas. Way too many commas for my liking. A few times per chapter I couldn't help but notice how long-winded some of the sentences were. And while this adds to the whimsy and the classical feel, it also makes it hard for the reader. I had to reread a couple of passages a few times just to understand what was being communicated. But, that's just a personal gripe and I feel it can easily be remedied with some editing passes and collaboration with a willing critique partner or editor who can help suggest and brainstorm ways to cut things down. 

I did notice a few grammatical and syntax errors, nothing too immersion breaking but still noticeable. Again, these can be cleaned up with quick and easy editing passes and fresh eyes helping to look for these things.

Conclusion:

What we have here is something completely out of the norm for RR. Classically styled fairytales that read and feel like classic fantasy are few and far between on this site. In fact, I think this Is the first time I've even read something like this on here. I think the author has the beginnings of something very special and unique. With some edits and some cleaning up, I can see this being much much more enjoyable of a read that draws on the nostalgia of childhood fairytales. The story is strong and draws on well-trodden paths while also finding its own feet. The characters are unique enough to stand on their own while being familiar enough that we can relate to them through recognizing some old favorites. I think this would appeal to any reader who is willing to use their imagination, connecting dots and opening themselves up to twists and turns. Also, its dark so that's a plus.


Everyone is a Superhero! Apart from me

Overall:

For transparency, this review is a part of a review swap between myself and the author. I really enjoyed the (short) time I spent in the world of Flair users. I found it imaginative and fun with just the right amount of comedy sprinkled in to keep things light-hearted. The MC is, I can't mince words here, a bit of a smarmy dickhead. And I enjoy it. The main strength, for me, is the characters. The ones we've been introduced to so far drip with their own personalities, doubly so for Eugene De Lavet, MC and Flairless wannabe hero. I look forward to seeing how he, along with the rest of the cast, grow. I also look forward to exploring the world of Loktharma as Flairs, as a concept, sound really cool and fun. 

Character & Story:

Easily the two strongest parts for me thus far. Amongst the comments I've read so far, it seems that readers are in agreement that Eugene is a mirthless dick. And that's perfectly fine. I feel it leaves plenty of room for him to grow. But first we need to see him as a wise-cracking dickhead who is selfish and only 'seems' to care about number 1, himself. It's also refreshing that the MC is the built-in comedic relief, we don't get enough MC's who just don't take themselves or anything else too seriously. I think that'll definitely leave room for plenty of personal growth and we, as readers, get to be along for the ride. The hints of story we've gotten so far are sparse but there is enough of a whiff of something bigger that makes me look forward to what the author has in store. The concept of Flairs is a fun one. LitRPG stylized superpowers, that just sounds really cool. And each of the characters have a Soulbound, or SC, who acts as their personal stat screen and PokeDex. I feel there is plenty of room for a large world to be built and we get to be along for the ride. 

Grammar & Style:

The weaker aspects of the story as a whole but, fortunately, the easiest part to fix. I noticed a few instances of tense switching, misused words, missing words, and missing dialog tags. But those are things that can be easily fixed with an editing pass or two. There were also a few instances of clunky sentence structure that had to be reread to be fully understood. Again, completely fixable with editing. The story being written in 1st person present tense gives it a real feeling of immediacy and I think it benefits from this. The author has done a really good job of clearly conveying each and every characters voice since there are multiple pov's, making it easy for the reader to differentiate.

Conclusion:

An enjoyable read and take on LitRPG's. I look forward to seeing more Flairs, learning about them and how others in the world apply them. I also look forward to the possible character growth, as a predominantly character driven reader. The author has the beginnings of a world that sounds fun and exciting and there's enough of a mix of comedy to keep things light-hearted. I appreciate that Eugene, the MC, uses comedy and isn't taking himself too seriously. If you're looking for a wise-cracking, fun read then give this one a go. 


Respawn Condition: Trash Mob

Overall:

This is part of a review swap between myself and the author. The concept is incredibly interesting and I plan to read further once I have the time to sit down and properly digest everything. The story itself is an incredibly slow burn and the author ensures that any prospective readers know so beforehand. That being said, the questions raised while reading, I feel, will eventually have a very big and satisfying pay off. Like, why is the MC constantly reincarnated as a mob monster in this dungeon? And why are they raised by the same hero with his harem group? Is it even the same hero each time or is the MC just that delusional?

For what it's worth, I enjoyed the bit I've read so far. But this is not a story for everyone. The slow pacing, glacial really, will turn many readers off. The slice of life aspects will also do that. For readers who like intimate, focused writing that does a really, really good job of putting you in the MC's shoes then this is the story for you.

Style & Character:

By far the strongest points of this novel, as far as chapter 7-8 goes. The author has beautiful prose that doesn't stray into purple, overly-flowery territory. While I'm not a fan of first person, personally, I enjoyed what I read due to the authors strong voice that shone through. The MC is really the only character we get any exposition from and we come to learn, bit by bit, the tolls the numerous respawns have had on them. As of the chapter I've read up to I'm still not so sure if the MC is male or female or non-binary and it doesn't really matter, their personality shines through and is incredibly strong. There's a tinge of sadness and melancholy to the authors style and I also really enjoy that as well. I also appreciate how the story is presented in a stream of consciousness style. It oozes personality and voice and absolutely puts us, as the reader, firmly in the shoes of the MC.

Grammar & Story:

Story was the weakest aspect for me and this may be due to my rather short amount of chapters read. After 8 chapter I still have no real clue or hint as to whether there is an overarching, hidden storyline that will eventually unfold. I might be expecting the wrong thing since I'm not the target audience for slice of life stories, so my expectations may be a bit different. But the pacing is bogged down by the stress of not knowing what's actually happening. The grammar is excellent, like I said the authors prose is beautiful. But sometimes the wordiness can be a bit much. When I have time I'll definitely be back to reasses how I really feel as far as my story score goes.

In all, I enjoyed what I read. Hitting the target audience is an absolute must, in my humble opinion. The prose is beautiful, the author knows what they are doing and have an excellent command over their presentation. As has already been noted, by other reviewers and the author themself, the pacing is purposely slow. It is to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace and rushing through would be a disservice. I'll be back to read more, time permitting, and look forward to learning more about the MC and the dungeon that the author has crafted.

 


The One Who Rules All Dungeons

Overall:

As a disclaimer, this is a part of a review swap between myself and the author. I was provided with a copy of the full first arc so that I would be able to properly form an opinion. 

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this lovely story. The author has done a great job of infusing some realism and slice of life heart into the, often, overpowered isekai and dungeon core genres. It's a slow burn, really slow. The MC is only OP in the sense that he's an isekai victim, this time a victim of the lesser known Car-kun. His base level 1 stats are higher than an average level 1's in the world he's been sent to. But that's it, other than his innate class and stats the MC is just an inexperienced noob thrown into a world and told to do some random things. For any prospective reader, do not go in expecting a steep incline as far as the power creep goes.  Instead, go in expecting a whimsical slice-of-life experience with isekai, litRPG, and dungeon core elements woven in. I really enjoyed the pace, it gives you a chance to get to know the MC, his very first friend, and the world bit by bit. I'm eagerly looking forward to the beginning of the next arc. 

Story:

The story is probably my favorite part so far. Or rather, the hint of things to come. While the pacing is slow, languid really, I think the story will benefit from the pacing in the long run. From what I've read so far, as an arc reviewer, I believe the author will be able to mix up the pacing really well so I'm happily looking forward to the developments. While the story bears are pretty much tried and true, the way things are handled make them refreshing and fun. For instance, in chapter 6 the MC ends up getting really hurt in his first encounter with some bandits. And this greatly impacts his mindset later on. I really like this bit, it shows that Kazuki is willing to learn, grow, and adapt. 

Character:

My second favorite aspect only because I have high hopes for the story. Kazuki, as an isekai MC, is NOT your usual MC. He actually has a backbone and proves to be adaptable, malleable, and smart as the story moves along. I know many readers, I'm included, have grown weary of the spineless isekai MC with the underserved harem and I think I can confidently say that's not something to worry about here. Elli fills the role of the sidekick/early love interest very well while proving that she can grow and isn't just a 2d side character. Her interactions with Kazuki, both early on and later on, are pretty believable once you come to understand why she acts the way she does. Overall, I look forward to seeing how Kazuki and Elli grow and how their dynamic will improve as they add more allies. 

Grammar & Style:

I'm going to roll these two into one for the sake of brevity. Personally I'm not the biggest fan of reading from the first person and doubly so for present tense. But I enjoyed my reading experience because the author did a very good job of handling the style. While I did come across some tense problems and a few repetitive, simplistic sentence structure problems, this did not hinder my enjoyment. These are easily fixable with some editing passes and I'll be pointing them out to the author in private. The grammar was spot on and easy to understand. No flowery prose necessary and I think this makes the story as a whole much stronger. 

In closing, I really enjoyed reading this novel. It's a refreshing take on a saturated genre that mixes in slice-of-life really well. I'll be looking forward to how the story and characters develop.