Book Review: Pipe of Wings by Sarah K.L. Wilson

Book Review: Pipe of Wings by Sarah K.L. Wilson
Cover
The book’s cover image was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes.

Spoiler Free Summary:  Pipe of Wings by Sarah K.L. Wilson  is the fifteenth book in the Dragon School series.  Amel gets tricked into obeying her new prince. This new leader has her reaching out to old friends for aide. The mysterious pipe she’d found holds a secret that my prove to be a move valuable weapon than she imagined.

Character:  Right up front I need to state that this is Book 15 in a series that’s designed (based on my reading) to be read in order. On one hand, it’s unfair to judge on book in the middle of a series. On the other hand, most authors of a saga should realize that people are going to jump into their series in the middle, and those readers will need some help catching up. I’m not going to be too hard on Wilson, but it’s a challenge to get into a story when you came in on the 15th part. Why did I do this? Well, this book was a Book Cover of the Month winner back when I ran those brackets.  

That said: Amel is a sympathetic character. I’m fascinated by her disability (something about her leg, though I’m unclear what it is). As sympathetic as she is, she didn’t strike me as very proactive or competent. Now, this is YA fantasy, so there was bound to be a lot of decisions an older person like myself doesn’t necessarily feel were the best. Amel was interesting enough that if I had the time, I’d probably go back to book one and check things out, but she wasn’t so cool that I feel compelled to go back. For me, that’s telling. Heck, I didn’t even really know Amel’s name until the last third of the book. (I listened to the audio version, and she didn’t leave a lot of tags for readers to track who was who or even who was saying what.)

Exposition: Honestly, this might be the first book where I feel I didn’t get enough exposition. I was clueless through pretty much the whole book. Sure, I came in late, but readers who come in late don’t have a chance at gaining enough context to enjoy what might be an amazing story for those who started in book one. I think it’s a shame because every book should be an opportunity to invite readers to your other books.

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Image of Sarah Wilson was taken from her Amazon author page for review purposes.

Worldbuilding:  The pipe was an interesting element as is the relationship between the dragons and their riders. I don’t understand it too well, but it was interested. I’ll assume the world, politics, and societal issues I was lost on in this book are a result in my ignorance.

Dialogue: This felt pretty rough. This doesn’t have anything at all to do with context or what book I was in. The conversations felt a bit formulaic. There were points of conflict that I felt deserved to be dealt with that were instead glazed over or even just ignored, which made the scene hard to believe.

Description:  This was very good. While I didn’t know who was who, I still saw and sensed a lot. I like picturing dragons of different colors flying around. This was easily the strongest area of the book for Wilson. One reason I’m not such a fan is probably because its best attribute is my least-favorite story element. That said, the worldbuilding and description in Dune were also amazing, and I didn’t very much care for that book either. Dune is mandatory reading for SCIFI fans and Wilson is a best seller. I wouldn’t let my singular opinion stop you from checking this series out, but I would strongly urge you that, to give it a fair shot, you start on book one.

Overall: While this is obviously part of a series, this book doesn’t provide any context or background to help readers starting in the middle. If you’re going to give this series a try, start at the first book. That may seem obvious, but some books do a fantastic job of helping the reader (or listener) catch up. The story is fast paced. The characters are hard to connect with, but the premise is very interesting. This series as a whole has a very interesting premise with a lead character with the opportunity to be inspirational.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: Knock and You Will See Me by Andrew Cull

Book Review: Knock and You Will See Me by Andrew Cull

This book was my 2018 December Book Cover of the Month.

KnockSpoiler Free Summary: In  Knock and You Will See Me by Andrew Cull Ellie Ray is still morning the death of her father when he delivers her a note. The crumpled, hand-written letter just asks, “Why?” This classic style ghost story gives chills in all the right places as creepy escalates to flat-out scary. Will Ellie find whatever it is that’s terrorizing her family? When she does, will she be able to stop it?

Character:  In too many horror stories (regardless of medium), the character always has some sort of moment of stupid. It’s a flaw of the genre that, thankfully, Cull doesn’t exploit. Ellie isn’t a genius or even particularly clever. What she is, is a realistic, thoughtful woman at her wits’ end. Some of the choices she makes have negative consequences, but they’re never just idiotic decisions just to move the plot forward or prompt a boringly telegraphed jump scare.

Exposition: First-person narrative sort of emphasizes the exposition in this story. There is some info-dump here and there, but I’d say it’s better than the average first-person story. The plot moves pretty quickly, and that is key in a good page-turning horror story.

Cull
Image of Mr. Cull taken from his Amazon page for review purposes under fair use doctrine.

Dialogue: The good news is, I don’t remember it being bad. The bad news is, I don’t remember it at all. It didn’t bug me. There are a few conversations with the local sheriff (or law person) that provided some solid tension and sympathy, but I wouldn’t call it snappy or anything.

Description:  This was perfect, especially for the genre. It was creepy in all the right places. I was prevented detail when it built tension, but when that tension peaked, the description was vivid. I’d like to put a special note to the description that implied emotions. This is an area of weakness for me, and reading this book helped me add a few “show don’t tell” tricks to my bag. Cull does a great job evoking emotion without paragraphs of information or ham-handed descriptors.

Overall:  This story was fantastic and pretty hard to put down. I tore through it in about a week. I’d recommend it to any thriller or horror fans. This was just a great, classic horror story that I think would make Hitchcock proud. 

Thanks for reading

Matt

Book Review: Demonhome by Michael G. Manning

Book Review: Demonhome by Michael G. Manning

DomonhomeDemonhome is the final book of the Champions of the Dawning Dragons series, which is the third series in the Mageborn saga. My review for the first book in this series is here.  My review for book two is here.  My review for the earliest series (Embers of Illeniel) is here.  My review for the central series (Mageborn) is here. This book was also my 2018 October Book Cover of the Month. 

Spoiler Free Summary:  Matthew Illeniel is the first wizard in his family to possess the true genetic heritage of his namesake. Using his strange ability to travel between worlds, he goes to another world to seek out the strange new mechanical enemies who plague not only his time, but were the an ancient enemy of the alien race. (I can’t spell their name correctly, and I can’t find their name in the time I have). Matthew must survive in a world that’s been taught to fear and hate magic of any kind. And that fear will lead to a stronger enemy his world might not be able to beat.

Character:  I like Matthew. He’s not as great a character as Moria, but he is fun. I think he’s a far more effective supporting character than a main character. I feel this way because he doesn’t actually have a lot of conflict in his life. He’s accepting of his status and goals. He’s confident in his abilities. It’s awesome seeing him work, but he’s too powerful and content for me to really connect with him as a character. That said, he is still a great character (just not as great).  His impulsive nature gets him into some tense situations, and his intuitive creativity (an obvious trait from his father) is fun to watch. No, I’m not worried about him, but it is a lot of fun watching him get out of the situations he’s in. It feels a bit like watching an episode of Doctor Who. I know he’s gonna live, but I don’t know how.

Exposition: This probably had more exposition than a normal Manning book, but I attribute that to the fact that we’re introduced to an entirely new reality. He still does this masterfully, he just had to orient his readers to this new area. More often than not, he let’s Matthew’s ignorance give us the comedy and understanding the reader would need.

Dialogue: Maybe not Manning’s best skill, but the dialogue is still far better than other stories. The thing that impressed me is that in a book like this, I’d have expected a lot of the dialogue to be thinly-veiled exposition, and there was a lot of that, but the bulk of the dialogue drives into character and personality. Part of the struggle is that these characters are young, so a lot of the topics are melodramatic.

Description:  As always, Manning’s work is visceral.  Description played more of a role in this story, and Manning upped his game accordingly. There are some cool things that happen here, and his style and timing really allowed this part of the story to sing.

Overall:  I think this story started of slow. I fought through the first ten percent of the book because of how much I love the series. However, once I hit the fifteen-percent mark, I was excited to see where it was going. This is amplified by how much I like the series, but it was a satisfying conclusion to this trilogy. It also set up the next series well. Fans of the whole series will like it much more than newcomers.  This book got me excited for the next set of books.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Announcing the 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year!

Announcing the 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year!

Greetings all,

It was a great year filled with a lot of great covers, great authors, and some amazing books.  Thanks to this idea, I got to read my favorite fiction book of the year. I got to make some amazing connections, but this is really all about the covers.

We had 3,023 votes for this bracket. That’s not as many as last year, but it’s still pretty great considering the size of this bracket. In the monthly brackets, we started with 32, and that ads 16 more votes per voter. These numbers mean we had at least 755 unique voters, and that’s awesome if you ask me. The winner of this contest can say more than 700 people looked at all 16 covers, and thought his or hers was best. (I have to TRY and keep some drama don’t I?)

There were three different leaders at different points of the contest. It was a close fight between the last two (came within ten voters, which would be less than one percent for those math people out there). However, I’m proud to say we have an undisputed champion.

The 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year is…

 

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Metal and Stone: The Awakening by Kevin Potter! This was a Wild Card Round CoverJust check out that link for a book blurb and more info on how his cover did.

Let’s look at the stats!  The closest fight was between Potter and Asunder by L. Steinworth. These two traded off the lead, battling for their metaphorical lives in the Final Four. Steinworth took the lead on the last day, but then Potter surged ahead by a mere eight votes, and that turned out to be the difference maker. None of the covers on the other side of the bracket provided much of a fight, but that semifinal round was worth watching!

Since Metal and Stone: The Awakening was a wild card winner, that means it never won a monthly competition, so let’s show the book blurb so readers can see if they might be interested.

 

(START BLURB)

DRAGONS.
They exist, but have been in a state of hibernation for millennia. Will mankind survive their violent awakening?

Dauria was young and idealistic when she helped create the pact to force all dragons to withdraw from the world of Man in Earth’s distant past.

When she awakens unexpectedly after a millennia-long slumber, she finds those carefully laid plans unraveling. Someone is plotting a new war against humanity, and this time words may not be enough to stop it.

In her desperation to reunite with old allies, she finds herself separated from her draconic nature. If she can’t get it back, the nightmarish horrors of the past could return worse than ever…

(END BLURB)

Potter received 474 total votes. It’s sort of cool because he came into the tournament ranked twelfth (the wild card round lead vote earner). .

That means the Weech goes to Potter’s cover designer, which means I need him to tell me who that designer is so I can engrave The Weech and send it over to him.

BCOTYI hope you all had fun this year. I really am pleased with how things turned out. That concludes the year, and, as I’ve discussed, the bracket is officially over at least for a year. With the marriage and release schedule I’m trying to maintain, it’s honestly a challenge to look at covers every day and provide the deep feedback I think it deserves. If I start again next year, I hope the authors and artists who were involved spread the word so other authors and artists can get exposure. That’s the whole point of the tournament.

For now, I’m honored to have the chance to give all these covers some attention. I will still read all the winners (including Potter’s) and review them. I’ll also find another way to give authors some purchases and reviews.  For now, I hope you’ll continue stopping by my blog.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Your 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year Update!

Your 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year Update!

With just three days left in the 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing.

As I type this, we have 1,512 votes so far. That’s a bit slow, but still not terrible considering the size of the bracket and the amount of time there is to vote.


518VjIXm4aLMetal and Stone 
by Kevin Potter is in first place.

Most Voted on so far: Potter has 245 total votes, but it’s pretty close in a couple of ways. I also think if we make sure these authors and their fan bases are aware of it, the 37 votes Potter has isn’t that steep a margin.

Least Voted for:  The Unlicensed Consciousness by Travis Borne has 19 votes.  This was the Number 5 seed cover that had 434 total votes in April’s Book Cover of the Month. I’m certain he’ll get a better showing if his fans can rally to his call.

So, how close is it? Well, Asunder by L. Steinworth is only 20 votes behind Potter in the Final Four.

There are still a few days left, so let’s see about spreading word and helping these authors and artists out. It would make me sad to hear an artist or author didn’t have an opportunity to participate.

 

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Pipe of Wings is currently in second. Can Wilson find 40 fans who will push her past Potter?

A brief not on Brackify. As I’ve mentioned, it’s shutting down. Some of you may be getting a warning. I’d appreciate any comments if you are.  That said, if you do get that screen, just know the IP is running down because of the site’s shutdown. I consider it a safe site, so you can click through to vote without too much concern in my opinion.

A quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final.  As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.

This will be the only update for this type of bracket. I hope the record does get broken and that I see voters lining up to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible.  You can vote at this address!

I’ll announce the winner is just seven days!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

The 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year Bracket Starts Now!

The 2018 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year Bracket Starts Now!

Hello all!

I’ve been building to this for quite some time, and I’m so excited to kick things off. This is it! Twelve Book Covers of the Month join four Wild Card Book Covers to comprise a sixteen-book tournament to determine which one will rule them all!

If you like, you can take a look at each book cover’s winning announcement: December, January, February, March, April, MayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctober, and November.

The Weech365 book covers. 53,047 votes. All leading to this tournament! The covers were ranked 1-16 by the number of total votes each received. That means the cover that received the most votes (Until Nothing Remains) is going up against the Wild Card that received the fewest votes. (Age of War), and so on and so forth.

You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.

As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.

If you are the author, let’s remember to be good sports! 1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.

Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.

A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.

It’s been fun! I’d like to end this tournament on a high note. I’m trying to get 10,000 total votes. Please, tell everyone. Get people to vote. I want this trophy to mean something, and it’ll frankly mean more as more people vote.

I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Cover of the Year! Announcing the November Book Cover of the Month and kicking off the 2018 Book Cover of the Year Wild Card Round!

Book Cover of the Year! Announcing the November Book Cover of the Month and kicking off the 2018 Book Cover of the Year Wild Card Round!

Hello everyone,

There’s a lot to this post, but we want to give everyone their due.

Brackify is shutting down, so we’re on a crunched schedule because we want to award a Book Cover of the Year.

First order of business, let’s wrap up November.

We’ve just wrapped up the last month

We had 2,444 votes this month. This was almost a record-setting bad month for us, but a couple authors showed out and got us to at least more than the least ever.

The November Book Cover of the Month is…

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All the Lonely People by Jason Nelson! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Nelson  received 253 total votes!

Blackwoods: The Beginning by Teressa J. Martin and Adaline McMillan was the runner up, so it’s an automatic bid into the 2018 Book Cover of the Year Wild Card round (as the sixth seed, but more on that in another post that dropped today).

But for now, let’s look at this month’s winner!

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

All the Lonely People is based on the podcast by the same name (available on your favorite podcast player).

After his wife dies, our protagonist is faced with the internal struggle of loss and grief while trying to raise his three-year old daughter. It’s an exploration of love, family, death, and what comes after.

(END BLURB)

I’ve added All the Lonely People to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought OctoberSeptember, AugustJulyJuneMayAprilMarchFebruaryJanuary, and December’s book.


Here’s Nelson’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about her and her work.

NOV_Cover_CollageSo that ends another fun year of the bracket. This is the last year for a while at least, but that’s no reason to stop working hard to make this a great year. So, let’s get the 2018 Book Cover of the Year Wild Card Round kicked off! (See the other post)

 

Thanks for reading

Matt