Sunday, July 21, 2013

Solace and Distress

~Title~
Solace and Distress
~By~
Stephen Holland
~Genres~
Adult Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy, Mythology
~My Copy~
~Kindle eCopy
~Published~
June 30, 2013
~Pages~
344
~Synopsis (from Goodreads)~
"Solace and Distress is set in an imaginary world, in the vassal state of Codencia Minor. The timeline would put it somewhere akin to the middle ages of our world. Part 1 of the tale tells of the birth of a girl by the name of Celeste in a small village and the strange tasks her father set her in the naming ceremony at the winter solstice.

Part 2 charts her life as an infant and her blossoming relationship with her father and friendship with a local boy Bracen. Her relationships with her father and friend are abruptly ended through the relocation of the family to the coast when a nearby volcano erupts. Her father returns to the village along with the other men folk in a clearing up operation. In the midst of the clear up the village elder is summoned to the capital of Codencia Minor for an emergency meeting of the parliament. Whilst there and the country itself is in a state of weakness it is invaded by wild men from the north, many are killed but Celeste’s father is taken prisoner and Codencia minor permanently occupied by the Northmen. Her mother, trying to protect her tells her daughter her father has in fact been killed and they are forced to live a quiet life at the coast.

In Part 3 Celeste is a tall and strong teenager but with little or no social skills having been brought up in isolation by her mother. Her one companion is a young Falcon, rescued and reared from a chick and who is her constant companion. Some three years later Celeste’s mother receives a letter from an old friend in the village where Celeste had been born. She still had the original property there but needed to go back to claim the deeds as the property had been vacant for nearly ten years. Now eighteen Celeste is told by her mother of the truth surrounding her father’s disappearance.

In Part 4, Celeste with her long lost friend Bracen set out on a quest to the north to find her father. On leaving the land Celeste kills two border guards and is injured herself. The couple (acting as newlywed’s) find shelter in a variety of small villages as they make their way north but knowing they are fugitives. Eventually they are betrayed and captured and are to be sent for trial. Celeste and Bracen escape imprisonment and make it over the border into another country where they hide in a cave by the river. They are found by another man Malic, also on his own quest to find the murderer of his own father, who joins them on their eventual journey north.

Part 5 tells of their time with Malic, now revealed as a reluctant Lord of an inherited estate and Bracen’s eventual marriage to a local girl. Celeste and Malic are forced closer together as they spend winter in the castle to the south of the supposedly impassable Cynric Mountains.

The final part is the tale of how Celeste and Malic manage the impossible and trek over the mountain range to find a cold but wide land in the north. How they eventually both achieve their quests and the awful decision presented to Celeste at the end of the tale."
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~My Rating: 2/5 Roses~

~My Review~
I really wanted to like this book, and I've been looking forward to reading it for a while.  Unfortunately, this book and I didn't get along very well.

The overall story is alright, but I doubt would appeal to most people.  If you're a fan of Xena the Warrior Princess or a macho Wonder Woman, and want to read a book with a main character like that, then you may like it.  It seemed very much like a book version of a guys' fantasy dream princess- strong, brave, great with a sword, but still voluptuous and sexually appealing (which was mentioned a LOT) in furs and revealing clothes.  So, I suppose perhaps it's better to say: I doubt this book would appeal to many women, and only to a certain group of men, such as warrior-princess fans...

The plot was...alright...mid-level fantasy adventure, with some action, and some graphic erotic scenes.  I didn't find the plot thin necessarily, just perhaps a little random or slightly shallow.  It seemed like a deep story, that we got a somewhat glazed overview of.  The secondary characters were ok, although it got somewhat frustrating with people being thrown in, made to seem important, and then having them taken out of the story abruptly.  The culture and characters reminded me of a mix between Vikings/Norsemen and Native Americans.  The story had some twists, although all completely predictable- I don't enjoy books where I'm able to figure out the ending in the first ¼ of the book, and this was one such story.

The biggest thing I had a problem with, and I'll say this as respectfully as I can- this seems very much like a book written by someone who isn't especially gifted in writing, and failed to have this book properly edited.  It seemed like the author made his own version of English, mixed it with a lot of Old English/Shakespearean words and phrases, and then attempted to write a book.  Basic sentence structure was completely missing, there were entire paragraphs of run-on sentences, words were often times misused, and there were many spelling and grammar issues.  Reading an ebook copy added frustration as well, because it wasn't formatted correctly.

What made it even more confusing to read, was the fact that quotation marks around dialogue weren't used properly (when used at all), and most of the time, a character's line was simply thrown in at random, with no obvious way of telling someone said something, leaving the reader to guess what was going on.  In many cases, there would be a paragraph of conversation between multiple people, minimal indication as to who was talking when, making it was difficult to figure out what was going on.

If this book were to be really edited and worked with, it could be ok.  As it stands, I'm surprised this is published, and has multiple editions.  I mean no disrespect to the author, in any way, with any of my comments and observations, but I feel they are necessary for my review.  I did not enjoy the actual reading of this book itself, but the story was ok, and I must be honest to explain my point.  That being said, the writing is bad enough to where I think it only deserves 1 rose.  However, this story is one that I think some people would like, and if it were ever properly edited, I would rate it 3 roses.  It balances out to 2 roses in my opinion.

I'm not sure if I'd give a recommendation for this book or not.  At the moment, it feels like I just read a rough draft manuscript that needs a lot of work to be finalized for the public.  While the story itself isn't something I think people should stay away from, the writing actually caused me pain with a bad migraine (twice), and I don't think I could recommend any one else reading this book until it's properly edited.
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