REVIEW - Child of Fire, Child of Ice: The Waljan Chronicles #1 (J.B. Trepagnier)

Child of Fire, Child of Ice"Creative premise, good story idea. Just needs stylistic/technical work."
RainHand Rating:
Find Child of Fire, Child of Ice on Amazon, andGoodreads!

(RainHand Books will be beginning its new review initiative soon - there has been some delay in the wake of the COVID-19 situation. For the time being, please enjoy a selection of my previously published reviews of books by self-published/independent authors, appearing for the first time on Rainhandbooks.com!)
Let me begin by saying that the premise of this book is a good one. There's nothing really new under the sun anymore in my opinion - it's just a matter of what unique spin we can put on the tried and the true. I felt that this tale was able to be different in a pleasing way, and the way that it seeks to mix the feel of sci-fi and fantasy together was successful. In that respect, I thought there was a solid story here with a lot of potential.

The trouble I had with this book appears to have already been mentioned in a number of comments so I feel as though I'm reiterating, but for the sake of a complete review I believe I ought to include it. In short, this book is in need of an editor's eye. I found it rather difficult to parse some of the text for the following reasons:

1) Run-on sentences.

2) A jumble of rapid-fire pronouns that make it difficult to determine which characters are being referred to.

3) Lots of 'names' all at once;.

4) Short, choppy sentences that would flow better if combined.

5) Large infodump sections that could stand to be broken up throughout the story so as not to appear pedantic.

6) Less "tell".


Note that some items on my list above seem contradictory - in some places I speak of excessively long sentences and too many pronouns, whilst in others, I talk about sentences that are too short, and too many names all at once. What I think this book needs is to strike a balance between the two in both cases. Merging of very short thoughts, setting of commas to or breaking up very long thoughts, and taking care to consider which characters of what genders are in each scene, so a mixture of names and specific pronouns can keep the reader dialed in to who is where, and saying what (this is especially important when all the characters being referred to are of the same gender, since the obvious assignment of 'he' and 'she' is lost). I think it would be of some benefit to trust the reader a bit more too, in terms of letting them form some mental images and come to some conclusions in their head. This can be a daunting task, but there's a definite balance between setting a scene for the play, and just acting it out one's self.

About the Author: JB Trepagnier is a huge liar. She first started lying as a child when someone asked who colored on the walls. She later went on to major in art, so they really should have framed it instead of sending her to the principals office so many times. When she was fourteen, she wrote a very large lie into several notebooks, which later became her first book, Midnight's Sonata. Rather than dabbling in politics and possibly ending up in jail for lying when it counts or under oath, JB chooses to craft elaborate lies into word documents and use them for entertainment rather than harm because she is really batman, just without all the money to fight crime ('About' info reprinted from goodreads.com.)

REVIEW - The Shapeshifter's Tale (Laura Koerber)

The Shapeshifter's Tale"Start at book one, you'll be glad you did."
RainHand Rating:
Find The Shapeshifter's Tale on Amazon, andGoodreads!

(RainHand Books will be beginning its new review initiative after the first of the year. For the time being, please enjoy a selection of my previously published reviews of books by self-published/independent authors, appearing for the first time on Rainhandbooks.com!)
I feel I may have done this book a disservice by coming in at part II. With the separate plotlines going on and some things I had to infer, I probably ought to have started at the beginning. Can't exactly fault the story for that though, and I found that what was going on in this book kept me reading anyway, so that's a plus, and a nod to good storytelling. Overall I found that I quite enjoyed this. Shapeshifters and their quandries are always of interest to me, and the dance of the two plotlines, even if I would have liked more perspective from the first book, still made me want to see where things were going in the next chapter. A little emotion is always a plus too, for I cannot care about the plight of the characters unless I'm given reason to. Many books fail at this. This one succeeded.

I have a few technical issues, some I will admit are matters of opinion, but they were a tad tricky for me all the same:

1) Pretty fonts aren't really the best thing over easily readable ones in prose so I'd change the title/TOC font to something more manageable (the one used for the actual word 'Contents' at the top of the TOC would be excellent).

2) Italics are certainly fine for internal dialogue, but there's way too much of it here (goes beyond just dialogue), and even then, using more than one font in the body of the text is jarring, so at least stick with an italic version of the same font. For monologue, italics aren't really good at all.

3) Perhaps a tiny (say 6 point) lead between paragraphs, to make things a bit easier on the eye.

4) Changing perspective from first to third person in the same story is a tough pill to swallow from the standpoint of a reader.


Overall, a fine read. I thank you.

About the Author: Laura Koerber lives on a island in the Puget Sound with her husband and dogs. She is a retired teacher, presently doing in home care for disabled people while volunteering at a dog rescue. Her degree is in art, and she is a painter, graphic artist, and ceramic sculptor. Her writing started about five years ago, a surprise to herself and everyone who knows her, since she had never written anything before. Laura learned to write by reading. She is a voracious omnivore of books. ('About' info reprinted from goodreads.com.)

REVIEW - The Lazarus Men (Christian Warren Freed)

The Lazarus Men"A good story for those willing to put the time in."
RainHand Rating:
Find The Lazarus Men on Amazon, Goodreads, and Lulu!

(RainHand Books will be beginning its new review initiative after the first of the year. For the time being, please enjoy a selection of my previously published reviews of books by self-published/independent authors, appearing for the first time on Rainhandbooks.com!)
Well, I can say that I'm always a fan of world-building, but the kind of building presented in a story like The Lazarus Men can be an even bigger challenge than that of, say, a fantasy novel where the entire planet is fictional and can be molded to whatever desire the author pleases. Where stories set only a few centuries in "our" future are concerned, one has to be more careful with their nods to the real world, and connecting everything together from what we know, to what we're about to experience, cleanly. I think Mr. Freed has done a good job of that, and for it I applaud him. We have plausible advances in technology, secret organizations, and even at least one non-human race - a proper nod to the idea that by the 23rd century, we might just encounter a few.

I'm a bit undecided on how I feel about the pacing of this story. At some points I felt myself being sufficiently drawn in to the action, and at other points, I found things to be a bit plodding, with perhaps a bit too much in the way of explanation. There's a fine line between making sure you paint a good scene for your readers and 'telling', as the 'show vs. tell' debate goes. Sometimes the battle was won here, and...sometimes not so much.

I believe this has been said in other reviews so I apologize for reiterating, but I admit that I'm also not a huge fan of the idea of an 'everyman' being roped into a world of intrigue, who seems to be able to keep up a little too easily. But then, I like underdog characters who have things stacked against them. I just feel that the aforementioned setup makes for a great opportunity to frustrate our protagonist, by forcing him to learn as he goes. Further, it helps to make a character relatable (and a fantastic plot device) when they don't have a proverbial clue anymore than we do. Gerald doesn't have all the answers, sure...but he sure has a lot for the kinda guy he is.

I know there are some folks out there who twitch a bit over the concept of changing perspectives within the same chapter or the same story at all, but I for one find very little wrong with doing this - indeed, it's rather commonplace in many literary classics, and helps to get inside the head of multiple characters from a third person perspective. It definitely happens here, and though it's possible for it to be done in a jarring way, I felt the instances of this were acceptably small. Just be advised that it does happen, if that sort of thing causes you ulcers.

Despite my concerns, I'm happy to have read this, and I would consider pointing others towards it. I think there's enough going on here to attract an interested sci-fi reader to the story, and perhaps even hope for more at some point.

About the Author: Christian W. Freed was born in Buffalo, N.Y. more years ago than he would like to remember. After spending more than 20 years in the active duty US Army he has turned his talents to writing. Since retiring, he has gone on to publish over 20 military fantasy and science fiction novels, as well as his memoirs from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, a children's book, and a pair of how to books focused on indie authors and the decision making process for writing a book and what happens after it is published.

His first published book (Hammers in the Wind) has been the #1 free book on Kindle 4 times and he holds a fancy certificate from the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. Ok, so it was for 4th place in one quarter, but it's still recognition from the largest fiction writing contest in the world. And no, he's not a scientologist.

Passionate about history, he combines his knowledge of the past with modern military tactics to create an engaging, quasi-realistic world for the readers. He graduated from Campbell University with a degree in history and is pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in Digital Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He currently lives outside of Raleigh, N.C. and devotes his time to writing, his family, and their two Bernese Mountain Dogs. If you drive by you might just find him on the porch with a cigar in one hand and a pen in the other. You can find out more about his work by following him @ https://www.facebook.com/ChristianFreed or on Twitter @christianwfreed.
('About' info reprinted from Amazon.com.)

The New Face of RainHand

Hello folks!


Rainhand Books (originally ordonline.net) has been through a number of changes since its debut in 2012. Originally I intended it just as a place to collect my own printed works, and the occasional stray thought. While this was enjoyable, it never really amounted to a whole lot in the way of content. Well, years and times change, and in that time I've had a chance to delve into the love of reading that drove me to become an author myself in the first place.

Fast forward to the present, and the new initiative for RainHand. I'd like to be involved in the writing community again, and given I know what it's like to be a new, self-published author struggling for attention, I've decided to merge my love of a good read/review with a nod to folks looking to promote their work. The result is "RainHand Books and Reviews!" As an informal initiative I hope to meet some wonderful new and self-published authors, share some social exposure for them, and most of all, read some great books!

So stay tuned for some book reviews from authors you may not know too well, but might just be hiding must read gems you have to check out!

Thanks for reading RainHand!

REVIEW - Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence (Bill O'Reilly/Martin Dugard)

Killing England - Bill O'Reilly 'Killing' SeriesIt's been some time since I did a book review, so I've chosen a title I read some months ago, but is still fresh enough in my head to speak of. I admit that I wasn't waiting for Killing England to release - I wasn't even familiar with the 'killing' series before I noticed an advertisement for the book in, of all places, Walmart, but I have a standing interest in the American War of Independence, and this title thus caught my attention.

The first thing that I personally had to take into account whilst enjoying this book is that it is not comparable to Jeff Shaara's The Glorious Cause. I wouldn't call the two books apples and oranges - perhaps a better comparison would be Georgia peaches with peaches from...anywhere else. One is a factual peach, while the other, to many of us, is the stylized image of a peach. The Glorious Cause is most certainly steeped in reality and is based heavily around actual historical data, but at its core, it is still a work of fiction, particularly in the behavior of the major characters throughout, some of whom tend to be reduced to their most base common denominator.

Killing England, by contrast, is a true documentary, and though it also follows the actions, behavior, and thoughts of certain key players of the time, it does so from a detached and clearly biographical perspective. These facts are still presented in enough of a storylike fashion to maintain interest even in those with a passing desire for the topic. This is fortunate, given I am most likely not the only person who better recalls facts learned in an enjoyable way.

I was not reading a physical copy, and thus didn't notice the page count until I came to the end of the main story. I was intrigued to find that (at least formatted on my device) there were still nearly a hundred pages to read. These consisted entirely of posthumous 'where are they now' bits, chronicling the lives of the key players from the end of the war until their deaths. I do enjoy a factual account that assumes portrayed persons had lives outside of the event being accounted for, and thus I found it worthwhile to read all the way to the end - nearly all of this was information I was not previously privy to.

The title is not without its tribulations. For one, you can tell this was written by a person who knows that shocking news gets attention, for there is a certain seemingly unnecessary focus on topics such as what exactly happens to your body when you are hanged, and various other depictions of gore that all culminate in the understanding that yes, war is horrible (we get that, on with the information please). This focus seems to be there mostly to keep reader interest, as though the book were afraid you might put it down for being too dry - I suppose I might have expected this given the overly theatrical title. The passage of time also comes off as convoluted and makes the book a bit harder to follow at times - one moment we're in 1881, and suddenly we're back in 1775 to touch on some information that might have been better served presenting when we were still talking about events taking place in 1775.

I found that I could overlook these relatively minor issues and still enjoy this documentary for what it is, especially from the perspective of persons of the time I otherwise knew rather little about (King George III, for example). I learned a great many things, and for that I felt it was time well spent. It's the type of book that will appeal more to folks who already have an interest in the topic, but for those who don't, perhaps aspects of the presentation that I could have done without will help to draw in new reader interest.

OrdOnline is now RainHandBooks!

What is Rainhand?Hello, readers!

Those of you who have kept up with my writing since the release of my first novel some years ago may have been wondering what I've been up to since then. Or you might just be wondering why ordonline.net no longer links to this site. Well, there have been some sweeping changes over time, and one of them has been a switch to a new domain, Rainhandbooks.com. This change was made because my writing is no longer only about the Traveler of Ord series. I exist in different forms on many platforms, but as this site is about the printed literary works that I attribute to myself sans pen-names, I felt it was time to diversify the domain. I have updated my books on Amazon, as well as all the places I could think of that still have ordonline.net listed as an author resource for me. If you find one I missed, please let me know! And if you're wondering what on Earth 'RainHand' even means, click the image above for an explanation!

Meanwhile, I never really went anywhere, and you can still find me at the resources listed under the aptly named 'Where To Find Me' dropdown list in the navigation bar above. Suffice to say I wear a number of literary hats. I have different communities for different types of writing I do, and even some revolving around adapting stories into comic format, or recording audiobooks. (What an interesting task a one-person audio show is!) I'm even looking forward to a potential speaking engagement this summer at a popular fan convention. If all works out, I'll be engaging in that dreaded task among tasks, public speaking, as a co-panelist and I go provide tips, advice, and a general pep-talk for how you can stay on task and meet your writing goals!

At any rate, keep in touch, and so will I!

The Ferryman has Come!

Paying the Ferryman - Charon Coin PressTomorrow, October 20th, marks the release of Paying the Ferryman - The latest anthology of chilling tales about life after death!

I'm pleased to announce that Charon Coin Press has chosen to feature my work as part of the anthology--

Eden in Spring is a putrefying, 4600-word tale about a man who finds out a shocking truth about the next life, and learns the hard way that the clock never stops ticking - even after death. It is being featured alongside nineteen other works by talented authors, befitting the theme of a dark outlook on the afterlife.

I'm very excited for the opportunity to work with some talented individuals on such a delightfully frightening project, and would like to thank the staff at Charon Coin Press for their patronage.

The banks of the Styx and Acheron are wet with bile, and the boatman draws near. Get it here!