Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Rolf's Quest - Aubrey Wynne

                I can say without any hesitation that Rolf’s Quest is one of the best romance novels that I have ever read. I was a bit hesitant to read it because so many books in the romance genre follow a very basic formula. Girl meets boy, they fall in love, an obstacle tears them apart, and then they find their way back to each other. It’s obviously a successful equation considering how popular the romance genre has become and Ms. Wynne definitely follows the same basic storyline. What is different about her book is all of the little details she has added, such as a brilliantly descriptive setting and characters who are not only likeable but even, in some ways, relatable.
                Rolf’s Quest is set during the reign of Henry II soon after he took the throne. Rolf is a wizard who is trying to break a curse set on Merlin many generations ago. The first male of each generation to fall in love without the help of magic will free Merlin from the tree he is captured in. None have succeeded so far until Rolf who has dreamed about Melissa for as long as he can remember. The only problem is that she is betrothed to the handsome yet cruel Duke of Sunderland. Okay, so it does sound cheesy and yes, the cover is of a generic long haired and buff Adonis that so often graces the covers of romance novels but I swear it is so worth reading.
                The setting is what first drew me in. Ms. Wynne creates for the reader a time that is as richly woven as the tapestries hanging on the castle walls. The characters are well developed and entertaining and each have their own unique history. Whether you love them or love to hate them, you won’t be disappointed in their dimensionality. The women, in particular Melissa, are strong and have minds of their own, something not very common during this time period. Merlin is a crusty old curmudgeon, even while trapped in a tree. I even like Charles, Melissa’s betrothed, even though he does turn out to be a horse’s behind. I can’t believe I am going to say this but I hope there is more to come in Rolf and Melissa’s story so that I can enjoy another book in the series.
I read this on my ereader and it formatted well. As I previously wrote, the cover is the usual and expected cover from a book in the romance genre.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Beetle Battles the Biotoxic Bulldogs - Andrew Rolston

                Beetle Battles the Biotoxic Bulldogs is a bit of a misleading title. It somewhat suggest that this will be a sci-fi or supernatural book. Even the cover, which I loved and really catches the eye, looks like something from the science fiction genre. However, this has nothing to do with aliens or biotoxic bulldogs. In fact, I’m not at all sure exactly which genre I would place it in. I think it’s aimed at younger teenagers because the main character, Beetle, is in grade eight even though he is two years older than his classmates. But some of the content gave me mixed feelings about which age group I would want reading this book. I don’t mind the subject of wet dreams and such but the description of Beetle’s dreams went a bit too far. Also, there’s a very long section about taking a lie detector test and some of the questions were entirely inappropriate. Bullying and racism is also addressed but in such a way that it was quite uncomfortable to read. As for vocabulary, I’m pretty sure that there are very few young people, or even adults, who would know the meaning of the word micturition. Then again, urinating into Beetle’s mouth was an unnecessary aspect of the bullying storyline, in my opinion.
                In regards to character development, Beetle is quite well developed. I can picture him as your average teenager who is reaching the cusp of becoming an adult but still with the immaturity of a child. It’s everything and everyone surrounding him that leaves a lot to be desired with regards to dimensionality of character. Little facts, lots of them, are just far too unbelievable to be ignored. A limo taking a student to a school so that he can do after school janitorial work? A beating so severe that blood is flowing down a child’s face but minutes later the adults take no notice of anything but the smell of urine and the fact that the child is wet? The writing just didn’t flow like it should and the transition from one scene to another wasn’t smooth and often didn’t make sense.
                On the positive side, I can see this becoming a funny movie aimed at the younger generations. There is lots of humour and some really great parts. It also addresses many of the issues young people face today. If some parts were tweaked just a bit this would be a great book. The bones of a funny and entertaining novel are here, they just need some work.

                I read this in digital format on my ereader and it worked well. The cover, as I previously wrote, is fantastic.