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FOR RICHES OR MORE

For Reading and More

By Walter, author of The Fifth Defiance

Feb 5, 2017: For Riches or More is a lovingly detailed take on the concept of a Heist movie franchise. A team of good hearted misfits and rogues complete serial capers in an attempt to thwart a dastardly schemer with nefarious aims. It feels a lot like a novelization of a (nonexistent) movie franchise, similar to the Oceans IP.

Sweet:

There is a lot to like in For Riches Or More.

Fundamentally, the most important thing about the series is that it GETS its characters. Within a chapter or so of any character’s appearance you can run a simulation of that person in your mind, and basically suss out how they would react to a given scenario. There is something behind their eyes, if you will.

The time spent getting to know these characters pays off whenever the pace intensifies, as the author doesn’t have to spend any time establishing how each character feels about what is going down . . . you already know it. This generally allows the pacing to ramp easily up and down as the story requires.

Pacing is the second strong point of the series, and it is the reason why the story can be as long as it is (it is very long) without losing readers. The author has mastered the time honored pattern of lulls leading into action, then back into lulls. Plan, execute, complication, adaptation, success, discover that success leads to next case, repeat.

The last noteworthy strength that I’ll highlight in this review is the setting. The author has gone with a sort of magical reality version of our world, which will be familiar to anyone who has seen a heist movie. Masterminds, henchmen, vaults and so on. The setting never cuts in on the action, never forces the pace to lag while you are introduced to something you’d need to know for the next twist.

Salty:

The failures of FRAM are generally problems of the genre, rather than execution related.

The main character is not persuasive as a criminal. Like, fundamentally, this is the Pirates of the Caribbean "He’s a pirate . . . and a good man" problem. It isn’t unique to FRAM, and basically any heist movie has to grapple with it, but you can’t really examine the ‘why’ of the heroes as criminals and get anything that makes sense.

The other bone I’ll pick is that the potential sequels hover over the project throughout. You are constantly reminded that behind the antag stands larger antags, to whom this guy who is giving our crew so much trouble is merely a pawn. The question of whether they are accomplishing anything keeps recurring, and the characters basically never have time to address it.

Summary:

Fundamentally, if you like a good action story, this one is one of the greats. It is free to read, it is long and well written. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot.

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LOVE DRUG

A promising story

By donutguru, author of The Rat Messiah

Nov 13, 2016: This story starts with a text message exchange, which is what drew my attention. It’s a good idea, and it has sparked some ideas for me in my own writing. Along with the texts, there’s pictures sprinkled in here and there to give a feel for the setting. Personally, I like that.

The story is still relatively short, and it didn’t take me long to get through the first five pages. Here’s what I can say. The writing is very clean and engaging. The conversations flow well. There’s enough action and emotion to keep me reading without anything that distracts me from the story. The characters are not as well-rounded as I would like, but we’re just getting started. There’s a few surprising scenes here already.

The pace may be just a little too fast. I don’t feel like I’m getting enough of a feel for the characters. Like I said, it’s still just starting out, so maybe I’m being impatient. There’s also a couple of large sections where the back story is presented in a rough outline. I’d prefer the "show don’t tell" approach. Neither of these facts will keep me from continuing with the story though. So far, it’s very good.

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THE SMELL COLLECTOR

Makes you stop and smell the roses

By Bequail, author of The Scapegoats

Aug 31, 2016: For someone who barely has a sense of smell due to year-round allergies, The Smell Collector was a fun and intriguing experience.

The story follows Jim Bronson, a man who has trouble grasping social nuances and collects smells like one would take photographs. He goes around sniffing people and things so he can recreate those scents in his basement.

Already, the above line should be an indication to the type of person our protagonist is. He’s a strange fellow, more than a little obsessive, and as noted by a couple of the other characters in the story, downright creepy. Jim Bronson does have hidden depth beneath his unconventional pastime, however. His interesting worldview is enough to pull the reader in despite his eccentricities and sometimes off putting behaviour. I found him charming, endearing even, after the first few entries, and his voice is filled with humour and introspective gold.

On that note, the work is rather character-centric. Characters are complex enough for the length of the work, and the story makes use of their individual idiosyncrasies to play with themes such as loss and purpose. The plot is a little predictable but satisfying, and not without its surprises. The Smell Collector uses this to its advantage, the simple plot serving to better develop its rather limited cast without being muddled with unnecessary complication.

My only large complaint is the lack of consistency in the work. Events are told through different POVs, characters, and mediums, and not always in a linear fashion. Even Jim’s chapters switch occasionally from first-person to third-person. And while this did keep things interesting and make the work more cohesive as a whole, albeit confusing on the outset, it could be jarring when switching to some of the more unique perspectives/styles and at times made the narrated events seem trivial or even slightly cheesy.

It’s a short work, one that I binge read over the course of an hour and a half long train ride. And while it’s not like the action packed epics I’m used to reading, I still found it enjoyable and would definitely recommend it.

All in all, The Smell Collector is an easy, light, and quirky read, that can freshen up a long commute or make evenings smell a little sweeter.

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