Tag Archive | 4.5 Star

Automaton by C.L. Davies (Book Review)


Automaton by C.L. Davies

In the not too distant future, after the huge successes of role-playing games, virtual worlds and reality shows, it was only a matter of time before somebody took the next step.  A remote island: a population existing only to entertain. Their lives broadcast around the clock and around the globe. Their actions dictated by their owners. It’s the world’s biggest game played by thousands. Welcome to Gameworld.

Dean 3012 is a good guy living on the Island. He loves his girlfriend, Lily, to pieces. With their first baby on the way, life is perfect. But when things take a sinister turn, the couple are plunged into a world of darkness and despair. Dean must somehow find a way to take control and fight for all their lives.

Amelia watches the game, given the gift of a Gameworld Character when she was but a small child. However, when her character’s happiness is threatened, how far will Amelia go to protect her?

The Bookworm’s Summary:

Clocking in at 200 pages, Automaton follows the story of Dean and Lily as they enjoy their blissful existence.  They live fairly normal lives except for a couple of weird laws:  No one can be out after curfew and when they turn in for the night, they must wear sleep masks.  Violating one of these laws will result in death. But these are small prices to pay to live in the world that Dean and Lily live in.  Crime is non-existent.

Things begin to change after Dean meets a woman who works as a bartender.  When Dean wakes up the next morning, Dean finds himself against his will pursuing this woman.  He tries to stop himself but nothing he does works.  Dean doesn’t know it but his controller has programed this desire into him.

When Lily’s controller, Amelia, realizes what is going on, she starts taking steps to counteract this.  She can’t understand why Dean’s controller would do this to Lily.  Amelia thinks that perhaps she can reason with Dean’s controller.  The problem is that controllers are anonymous.  Once Amelia finds Dean’s controller, things begin to rapidly spin out of control.





The Bookworm’s Impressions:

This book is very well written.  The characters pull you in immediately.  There were times when I would forget that Dean and Lily were “characters” in Gameworld and not part of the outside world.  In fact, it wasn’t until the very end of the book that I remembered that Dean and Lily were robots and not human at all.

Cheryl Davies does an outstanding job of taking the reader on the Dean’s journey.  I shared in Dean’s joys, cheered when he attempted to fight his programing, lamented in his inability to do so, and ultimately understood the heart-wrenching sorrow that would overtake him.

The characters on the outside world were just as intriguing as the characters within the Gameworld.  Being a reality-tv show junkie (Though I must say that I am not as bad as my mother.  Boy, can that woman suck down some reality-tv!), I can totally understand the obsession of Amelia and the other characters in the outside world.

Of course this comes from a woman who occasionally creates friends/co-workers on The Sims and throws them all into a house together a la Big Brother to see what happens (So what if I keep preventing that witch a couple of offices down from going to the bathroom so she ends up wetting the floor.  It’s funny.  Don’t judge.).

I think one of the things that I loved the most was the intricate layering of plots.  The outside world had control over Gameworld but in its own way, Gameworld began to influence the outside world.  There were so many threads woven beautifully together:  e.g. Dean and Lily, Amelia and Luke, the individual rebellions in Gameworld against “Big Brother”, the fight to overcome one’s programming (I might characterize this a mind vs. body type of fight), and the eventual total humanization of Dean.

This book is a quick and enjoyable read.  I would highly recommend it.

The Bookworm gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars!

To learn more about Cheryl Davies, check out her blog!  Check out some of our other book reviews!  Check back over the weekend for an interview with Cheryl Davies!

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Riddle in Stone by Robert Evert (Book Review)

Long after the last of the great heroes of old has died, the Undead King is stirring again, amassing a goblin horde ready to sweep out of the mountains and destroy all of humanity. The only thing preventing utter annihilation is Edmund—a stuttering librarian who knows a secret, a secret that every thief, assassin, and king would kill to have. Fleeing from relentless peril, Edmund wages a solitary battle against an ancient evil. But how can one man succeed when so many before him have failed?

A brief disclosure first about this book.  I was excited about the release of this book.  How excited was I, you ask?  When the book was released, I bought it for my kindle totally forgetting that I had already bought it for my nook.  Oh well.

After downloading it for my Kindle, I didn’t have time that evening to read it.  So I put it aside to read during my lunch hour the next day.  Not only did I arrived back from lunch half an hour late, but I spent the whole rest of the afternoon sneaking in a couple of pages here and there.  I ended up finishing it up sometime after dinner.  I decided to let my mind digest the book for a week before sitting down to write this review.

Riddle in Stone is the debut novel of author Robert Evert.  Frequent readers of the Bookworm’s Fancy will recognize the name from an author interview and a small feature in Around the Web #2.  He was one of the first authors that I met in the course of working on this blog.  I was surprised by his down to earth attitude about his writing.

Let me say that it starts off a little slow and a bit tedious due to the way Edmund thinks and speaks.  But the slow start is necessary to set up the character and gives the reader a glimpse into his inner struggles.  Once Edmund leaves Rood, the story picks up immediately.  

He leaves his home with his head filled with the legends and history that he read in his books.  But is soon forced to face the fact that all he has believed in was a lie when he is captured by goblins.  All that he has to sustain him during his captivity is a few spells that his mother taught him when he was younger and his love for a local woman named Molly.

For his first outing as an author, Evert does an outstanding job.  He isn’t afraid of the nastiness inherent in captivity.  The process of turning Edmund from a sputtering coward into something resembling a hero is a long and ugly one.  It is the inherent want to survive at any cost that finally pushes Edmund to that transformation.  This transformation is what allows Edmund to triumph over the goblins and rescue his beloved Molly.

Evert creates interesting characters that you can’t but identify with and root for.  You find yourself cheering on Filth, Crazy Bastard, and Pondscum.  You find yourself loathing the goblins and yet intrigued by the goblin king.  

With this story, Evert has successfully put a new spin on the ordinary fantasy character that either through magic, destiny, tragedy, or hardship becomes a hero.  I have read a lot of books in my life and I have never read one that managed to do that any better than this book.  

With Riddle in Stone, Robert Evert has given us a fantastic debut novel, though not without some rough parts.  The great thing is that Evert is a new author; and his writing and storytelling can only improve.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to its sequel, which we get a glimpse of at the end of this book.  

The Bookworm gives this book 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

 You can visit Robert Evert’s blog by clicking here.  You can order Riddle in Stone by clicking here.  If you like what you read here, be sure to follow us on twitter @ErinEymard and Google Plus.

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Dragon Fate by J.D. Hallowell (Book Review)

Dragon Fate by J.D. Hallowell follows the exploits of Delno Okonan, an army lieutenant looking for something more in life.  Trying to escape the political pressures of the city, Delno climbs a nearby mountain and finds himself face to face with a dragon.  Fate intervenes and intertwines Delno’s life with that of the young dragon hatchling Geneva.  The bulk of this book revolves around Delno adjusting to having a dragon around and to being able to use magic since magic is frowned upon in the northern kingdoms.  

J.D. Hallowell’s Dragon Fate!

Dragon Fate is a new take on the dragon rider fantasy stories.  Not as gritty as say Bazil Broketail but more enjoyable (in my opinion) than Pern (before you fuss at me, know that I love Anne McCaffery.  I just didn’t particularly like her Pern books.  I enjoyed her Tower and Hive books much more.).The interplay between Delno and Geneva is truly what drives this book and keeps it from dragging.  

This is a fantasy that is centered around the growth of the main characters.  The external conflicts serve to foster and illustrate that growth.  I found all the characters to be engaging and surprisingly not predictable.  I have to admit to being completely sure that one of the first characters that you met that is central to Delno was going to betray him at some point because isn’t that what happens in every fantasy book ever?  I was pleasantly surprised when he didn’t betray the main character but have a sneaky suspicion that the author is just setting you up for a greater betrayal in later books.

The characters are written in such a way that you truly do care for them (even the villain…okay maybe not the villain but definitely his dragon).  The plot twist toward the end of the book shouldn’t have surprised me but it did.  I was too busy being interested in Delno learning about his dragon to catch the gingerbread trail of clues that the author was leaving.

My biggest gripe (and it isn’t really a huge one) is the overuse of ‘dear heart’ and ‘dear one’ in conversations between Delno and Geneva.  I understand the closeness of their relationship and it is very well written.  However there were a couple of times that I wanted to punch someone if I read ‘dear heart’ one more time.  Other than a couple of minor formatting issues (which I suspect might be exclusive to the epub edition), it was an easy read.

I definitely look forward to the other books in the series.  I want to see what the author has in store not only for Delno and Geneva but also for Nat and other supporting characters.

The Bookworm gives this book 4.5 Stars out of 5.

You can visit J.D. Hallowell’s blog by clicking here.  On deck next is The Northern Star by Mike Gullickson.