Balam, Spring by Travis M. Riddle, self published 2018 trade paperback, fantasy-mystery
I saw an image of the cover and liked it, I followed that with reading a blurb, which sounded interesting, and wound up putting it on a wish list. It subsequently showed up under the Christmas tree, and I finally read it recently’
The Story: (from the blurb)
Balam is a sleepy town on the eastern coast of Atlua, surrounded by forest and sea. It’s a village where nothing happens and everybody knows each other.
When the town’s resident white mage (the healer or doctor) falls ill and dies. The town mayor calls for a replacement. By he time that new Mage, Aava, comes, several more townspeople begin to show similar symptoms, and people are dying. A suspicious young man appears in the local pub the same night the sickness begins to spread.
As the new Mage looks into the deaths, an ex-mercenary named Ryckert who has some battlefield medicine experience offers his help. Worse, whatever is causing the sickness seems to be attracting strange insectoid creatures from the surrounding woods, desecrating the bodies of the victims and tearing through anyone unlucky enough to cross their path.”
So, a fantasy, mystery with a medical puzzle. Could be just my cup of tea!
At page 80 I was still waiting for more than descriptions of character and setting, when I came across some grammatical errors. That bothered me, and the writing continued to be a problem for me, along with slow plot development and few characters I could care about.
An interesting idea, but…not enough depth. I gave it up at page 147. You might like it better, and if you decide to read it, I’d like to know. Really nice cover, though.
I will definitely pass. The fact that it was self published would be enough to make me avoid it. I know there are probably a few exceptions but I think they are very few. I can’t keep up with all the books from regular publishers much less self published ones.
I’ve read several self-published books that were very good, but when a writer has a book that’s not good enough it probably should stay in a drawer. Others may have liked this book better than I did, and to be fair, I didn’t finish it; it may have gotten really good later on.
There are good authors who are self-publishing (Brett Battles is one), but clearly this one is not, or at least not good enough.
Highlight of the week was The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson, his wlaking tour of Britain to commemorate his first tour 40 years earlier. He visits several places he’d been to and notes the changes – often not for the better – as well as places he hadn’t been before. I enjoyed his frequent asides about how life has changed in Britain (again, not always for the best) and the things he doesn’t like about it (littering everywhere is one), and overall, if you like his writing you’ll like it. Let me add that the negatives are just a small part of a mostly happy, positive book.
Killing Quarry is the latest in a series by Max Allan Collins started in the mid-’70s, this one in the later group where hitman Quarry is tracking down other hitmen (and women) on the Broker’s list and offering their prospective victims a chance to buy their way out of being killed, as well as taking out the person who ordered the hit in the first place. But this time, as the title indicates, our anti-hero is the prospective victim himself. Not one of the best in the series, in my estimation, but as always this is a smooth, fast read, and it is safe to assume he will be back to kill another day.
Current reading is A Longer Fall, the second in Charlaine Harris’s new Gunnie Rose series, and so far I am enjoying it, as I did the first book. My short story reading has slowed down to one a day in The Arthur Train Mystery Megapack. Mostly, we’ve been watching DVDs of series borrowed from the library: the Danish BORGEN (we’re on the third and final series; sad), THE SINNER (we finished series one, which could have benefited by being six episodes instead of a somewhat padded eight), THE GOOD FIGHT (nearly done with series two), and INSPECTOR LEWIS (series three and four currently).
I liked The Road to Little Dribbling when I read it a couple of years ago (and reviewed it here), though I liked the first book better. Not a fan of the Quarry books, though I have read a couple of them.
I’m reading some Russian short stories. I have a stack of Library books that can’t be renewed (other people have Holds on them) so I’m focused on reading them this week. All the snow has melted here and we woke up this morning with temperatures in the 50s–twenty degrees above Normal. The contractor should be done with all the painting in our kitchen, dining room, living room, and hallways later this week and we should be getting back to Normalcy.
I’m sure you’ll be glad when the work on your kitchen is done! I have three library books here, and am only halfway through the first of them.
Forgot to mention what I’ve been reading. Finished The Big Goodbye by Sam Wasson about the making of Chinatown. I liked it a lot. Now reading Deadland by William Shaw. One of favorite British crime writers.
My reading has been slow due to blurry vision, especially in the first half of the day. I was diagnosed with macular degeneration and go to a retina specialist in two weeks. They said it has been caught early and is treatable. One of the methods is injecting medicine into the eye with a needle. Not looking forward to that!
Steve, good luck! My father had macular degeneration and had the injections, but he was considerably older than you and I don’t think it helped much. On the other hand, he kept driving to the end and he was 89!
I agree on William Shaw. I was thinking about downloading another of his books.
Steve, I sure hope you get that vision problem taken care of! My thoughts and best wishes go out to you.
I dislike leaving a book unfinished although I seem to doing it more and more.
Books I have finished include Eric Frank Russell’s WASP. a standard 50s SF novel that would have fitted well in Campbell’s ASTOUNDING (and my FFb last Friday),the latest Agatha Christie collection THE LAST SEANCE (which contains mostly supernatural stories, all but one available in previous collections), THE WAR CHIEF,(a western from Edgar Rice Burroughs and the first of two books about Apache Warrior Shoz-Dijiji, the adopted son of Geronimo), LUCIFER. VOLUME 1: THE INFERNAL COMEDY (a GN created by Neil Gaiman but mainly written by Dan Watters, a bit esoteric for my tastes), and A VERY SCALZI CHRISTMAS by you know who (interesting but mainly slight Christmas piece from his blog).
In the I Can’t Believe I Have Never Read This Before Category, I’m about 3/4s through Orwell’s 1984. First written more than 70 years ago, it still rings disturbingly possible in this era of Trump. **sigh**
We just had the first Covid19 fatality in our county and I’m not happy — not panicking, just not happy. Keep washing your hands, Rick.
Yep, a few times a day. I’m also not going out, at all, but Barbara goes to 24-Hour Fitness several days a week, and does the shopping and errands. There have been a few deaths in OR, but it’s worst in WA. I read 1984 while I was in high school, I believe, and also Animal Farm about the same time. They weren’t assignments, just books I wanted to read. I liked Animal Farm better.
I love that cover and can see how you were attracted to the book. Too bad it did not work out for you.
I recently finished Rest in Pieces, a book by Rita Mae Brown set in Virginia. It was the 2nd in a series and seemed better than I remember the first one. With a cat and a dog that talk to each other but not to the humans. Now I am reading another Miss Silver book by Patricia Wentworth. Those are variable but I am enjoying this one.
We have had some rain for a few days, may get more this afternoon, and then a possibility for rain over the week end and into the next week. So strange (and welcome) after the last two dry months.
Tracy, I read one, maybe two of Brown’s Sneaky Pie books, but wasn’t entranced.
It’s been a warmer than usual Winter here Springlike, the Daffodils are finishing up already and the trees are either blooming or leafing out. The Lilacs are budding! Now we’re supposed to get some Very Cold nights, in the 20s, and some things could get damaged. We’ll see. We’re very far behind on both rain and snow so far.