Of Musings and Wonderings

legends of windemereBeginning of a Hero tells the story of Luke Callindor, a young adventurer determined to prove his worth outside of his family name. His chance comes when he meets a royal messenger, and convinces him to hire Luke to protect the heir of Duke Solomon. Unfortunately, Luke has no information on what the heir looks like, no clues as to who they might be except that they are currently at the Hamilton Military Academy, a school run by former mercenary Selenia Hamilton. Luke has to avoid suspension, discovery and death at the hands of a demonic assassin, all while trying to work out who, exactly, the heir is, so he can protect them.

Admittedly, it took a while to really get into the book. Mainly because it’s a style that I (and I suspect most people) aren’t used to, the use of third person present tense. If not done well, it can be horrible. But luckily, Charles manages to pull it off, and after getting past the first few chapters it becomes much easier and enjoyable to read. I have read some third person present books that have been horrendous, and it’s great to see a writer who can actually do some good with it.

The characters themselves are nicely written, especially the characters that populate the academy around Luke. Some serious, like Selenia, others funny and comedic, adding a nice bit of humour into the plot. Luke forms his own group, made up of the people he trusts and likes, to help him in his quest. The characters balance each other out, and add something different to the action scenes later in the novel.

Possibly due to the use of present tense, some of the action scenes do get a little muddled. In places, it is a little dialogue heavy, and the dialogue is used for explanation purposes perhaps a little too much, detracting a bit from the story. But it’s definitely a novel where it feels like the author is getting better and better with each page, and it’s easy to enjoy reading it.

I’ve read a few self-published novels in the last few months. Some have been terrible. Others have been actually, pretty damn good. Maybe not as polished as traditionally published novels, but then again, these authors don’t have a whole team of editors behind them. And I’m very, very glad that Beginning of a Hero falls among them as one of the best self-published novels I’ve read, and it’s the strongest present tense one I’ve seen. If you like fantasy, and want to read something a little different, I strongly suggest picking this one up.

Oh! And what excellent timing! The novel’s free for the next three days, so go check it out and check out Charles’ blog while you’re at it, too.


casebookI have to admit, I was a little apprehensive going into this. For no other reason than my disappointment from Carrion In The Crow’s Nest. Yeah, I judged the second author based on a completely different author for no other reason than I picked up both books at Scardiff, and they both, I assume, were self-published. But I actually had the chance to talk a little to the author of this one, got the book signed, and was intrigued by the idea. Partly because of my own novel Moonlighting, still working on and which can be found at my Fictionpress page, which centres around a Private Investigator called, of all things, Sam, who ends up working with and for supernatural creatures that enter our world when something goes wrong in theirs. Part of me wanted to see if the two were in any way alike, part of me was just interested because I love supernatural novels.

It’s nothing like Moonlighting. Yay! And, luckily, my fears about the book quickly disappeared.

The Casebook Of Sam Spallucci follows the main character in his first week as an investigator of the paranormal. While trying to solve cases, he often finds himself in tricky situations, but is, lucky, helped out by those around him. Included are stories of a Satanic cult of daytime TV actors, a vampire Sci-Fi geek trying to adjust to his new life and a possible werewolf threat in Lancaster.

The book is, as the name suggests, a collection of the cases that Sam deals with, all split up into their own short stories but connected to each other via the characters and a couple of over-arching mysteries. It feels, almost, like reading a TV series.

There are a few typos, but they are fairly easy to overlook. The voice of Sam is entertaining, even when he seems a little dense at times. The supporting cast, as it were, is made up of Sam’s close friends, and each brings their own charm to the book.

There are a few questions that could have been answered; some people seem to fully accept the paranormal in the book, while others scoff at the idea. It’s hard to tell if the paranormal is something known and accepted in Sam’s world, or something that most people don’t believe in. After all, surely it would be difficult to be a paranormal investigator if most people don’t believe in that sort of thing? It’s a little confusing, and something that Chambers could maybe work on a little more.

Anyway. The Casebook of Sam Spallucci is a fun, entertaining book. It has its faults, but in amongst the drama, horror and Sam’s very likeable voice, the faults are very easy to overlook. Worth reading if you’re looking for something slightly different.

et cetera