Uncle Herbert, by Philip C. Elrod

5_9_17 Uncle Herbert

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We all have that one weird relative in the family, right? You know the one I’m talking about: dresses weird, talks weird. Your family talks in hushed whispers about how they’re ‘just not right.’

Meet Uncle Herbert. He happens to be that guy. And now he’s gone and dragged his nephew, Andrew, into the fray.

The events of this novel fit right into the eccentricities of Uncle Herbert. It’s a wild ride from start to finish.

The story was neat and tidy. Well thought-out, and finishes with questions answered. For the most part, every character served a crucial role to the story. I say ‘for the most part,’ and I’ll get to that in a minute.

While well-written, there was a lot of uninterrupted dialogue. Properly spaced, mind you, but it felt like one long speech when characters talked sometimes. There was no action to break it up. It was excellent exposition and the information was necessary. It didn’t need to be all at once, though. In some parts, it did serve to jump the narrative ahead, especially given the time frame.

Some of the character interactions felt forced, as did the love story. Remember when I said each character served a crucial role to the story? Avril didn’t. She felt thrust into the narrative to serve as nothing more than the love interest. Her character doesn’t feel as rounded as the others. I like how it ended, I didn’t particularly care for how we got there. The character development was okay. Andrew’s was the most notable, as expected of first person narratives. I wish some of the supporting characters had a little more to them, though.

The author takes great care in how the story unfolds. Character placement and personality become very important, something they manage to reflect. What I liked most was how the author managed to weave little seeds of doubt for the loyalties of the characters. It kind of felt like I was playing Clue. As the cast expands, readers analyze every detail to try and predict how the story will turn out. Because of this, Uncle Herbert isn’t as predictable as it first seems.

There’s some minor editing needed. It’s not enough to tear the reader out of the story.

Uncle Herbert was a book of unique tastes, much like the man himself. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this novel, but I can say I wasn’t disappointed. Adjusting the way the reader’s given information would help how the narrative progresses. Uncle Herbert is a very worthwhile read.

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Hidden Tribe, by Scott Harper and Desiree Lee

5_7_17 Hidden Tribe

4 stars

“Scientific expedition to document aboriginal tribe” is the vibe Hidden Tribe gives off.
Except with Sasquatches.
An entire family, even.
Narrated from the perspective of Sasquatches, the authors take on a unique challenge. How to describe a culture foreign to them without sounding silly? The main Sasquatch, Iktomi, does a decent job of that as he struggles to keep his family safe. From there, he’s determined to keep an eye on these strange humans. Iktomi tracks and observes, narrating to us like an Animal Planet host. Okay, not quite that far, but the roles of humans and Sasquatches do get reversed. Though, it’s still the humans on the hunt for the elusive creatures. Some with good intentions, some not so much.
Each character has their own agenda, and Iktomi is witness to this all. The writing style, for the most part, covers this well. Iktomi’s determination to keep an eye on humans allows him to move around. He tracks the characters as they go about their subplots. A multitude of personalities gives life to a few different stories.
Description was short and to the point, much as you would expect from this type of novel. There was little time for flowery language, given the fact that Iktomi tries to be an observer. Grammar and punctuation were pretty solid. Hidden Tribe manages to find a good setup for pacing. Geared towards giving the right amount of information, paragraphs and sentences were well-constructed. It doesn’t feel like it’s too drawn out with exposition, but neither is it action-packed in every sequence.
Given that, the writing did an okay job with creating tension. Humans are always fighting. Through circumstance, they manage to be on the Sasquatches’ tails the entire time. The author makes the creatures different, but still similar enough to humans. Theories and legends surrounding Sasquatch allow for these similarities. It never feels like the story is trying too hard, or stretching the imagination.
Hidden Tribe was an interesting idea. I liked that a lot. Most often we see humans hunting Big Foot, but never do we get to see the Sasquatches’ side of the story. The authors managed to create a cryptid hook, and it refused to let go. I’m a big fan of this idea. The writing style suited the novel, even if it felt dry in some areas. From beginning to end, everything flowed well, made sense, and loose ends tied up. Couldn’t ask for a whole lot more.
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Deity’s Soulmate, by Angelina Kerner

4_25_17 Deity's Soulamte

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Deity’s Soulmate is an interesting amalgamation of Greek mythos and modern storytelling. Modern in that it takes place with current amenities, so to speak. While the deity’s can go anywhere and to any time, the story itself feels like it takes place in the year 2017. Gardenia, Apollo and Athena’s daughter, starts her journey creating her very first universe. Like all her relatives before her. She is in fierce competition with Harvest, daughter of Hera and Zeus. Both women are always trying to one up each other. As a result, it pushes Gardenia to make the most important decision of her life.

 

I can say without a doubt that I don’t like Gardenia’s character. Based on her familial background, I know the readers are supposed to sympathize with her. I can’t. The more the story progresses, the more we see that she’s the same as everyone else. Demanding, rude, self-centered, and petty. Read: everything a Greek deity’s described as. So, while her personality is canon, I don’t find her likable. Or relatable. Negative traits in a character are good things, usually. Not very many people seem to grasp that fact that they’re needed for a full personality. Unfortunately, Gardenia’s outweighs her good traits. And it feels so over the top it’s like she’s trying to show off. Trying too hard.

 

There isn’t much in the way of character development. Gardenia does everything with relative ease. Magic is what she relies on. It does everything for her. No limits in sight. This gives her an unnatural advantage during her quest. Cheapens her victories, if you will. There’s a vague idea that somewhere, somehow, she’s struggling to fulfill her task. I have yet to see it.

 

The writing style was very fast-paced. It suited the story…for the most part. There was a lot more telling than showing. Telling can be useful. This case was very overdone.

 

The pacing of the story itself felt off. Every so often Gardenia would do something, only to have years pass. Except it doesn’t feel like years have passed. It feels like Gardenia is vomiting her story out. That everything is happening one right after another. The fact that her character stays the same from beginning to end doesn’t help. Generally, with the passage of time, people change. Gardenia didn’t.

 

Deity’s Soulmate has potential. It’s hard to find Greek mythology that hasn’t been overdone, and this novel can do it. It would take some work. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

 

Buy it here!