Kat Lebo's Reviews > Wrath and Bones

Wrath and Bones by A.J. Aalto
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Wrath & Bones, The Marnie Baranuik File, Book Four
By A.J. Aalto

Dear Ms. Aalto:

This is probably not the format you are used to seeing reviews of your work. However, I felt a real need to direct this specifically to you, rather than to the general public. After all, it is your work.

First, let me say that I think you are a top-notch storyteller. I love your characters, who are funny, and pathetic, and emotional, and unfeeling, and smart, and idiotic, and sexy, and revolting, and crazy, and rational – in other words, totally human (yes, even the inhuman ones). They stay true to their back stories, while still evolving and growing. Their adventures are thrilling, and messy, and dangerous, and humorous, and challenging, and impossibly believable. They are well-paced with a seamless flow that makes your readers want to keep reading well into the early hours of the morning. You have a talent for description that gives your readers wonderful – or horrible – visual glimpses into the crazy world of Marnie Baranuik and the others who inhabit it.

And there were things I so appreciated. References to events from the past, to songs from the 1980s (yes, I was an 80s Lady), and other pop culture references make me smile and feel more connected to the characters. Your reference to the 1950s song, “Green Door,” sent me running to youtube for a video and the song has been a recurring earworm for me for days. And Betty the Yeti? Genius.

I was also happy to see you finally include the words “so mote it be” into one of the Wiccan spells that Marnie weaves (although it was Declan, and not Marnie, who said it). Although not Wiccan myself, I am friends with many who are, and I know those words are very important to the proper wording of a Wiccan invocation.

So why oh why, when I so love your talent and find so much in your writing to enjoy, did I rate this book only 3 stars?

That’s simple. You simply must employ better proofreaders and editors, and certainly, a better digitizer for your work.

I’ve checked back on the first couple of books in the series, and found none of the digitizing problems that plagued the third and fourth book in the series. As there is another book in the series now available for purchase, as well as a few short stories or novellas, I can’t imagine why you have not corrected those errors. In book three, I noted 135 changes from space and a half to single and back again. In this fourth book, there were over 140. I cannot imagine that an author who obviously spends plenty of time honing her craft, developing a marvelous fantasy world, and crafting stories that are wonderful to read, finds that acceptable and has not made an effort to have at least the digitized versions revised (yes, that happens all the time – I’m forever receiving revised editions of books I’ve long since read and relegated to my cloud bookcase – sometimes more than one revised edition over time). Perhaps some of your readers don’t care or don’t even notice the switches, but for me, they are jarring and pop me out of the action for a few seconds while my poor old brain switches gears. As this may happen at any time, maybe in the middle of a sexy interlude or the penultimate point of an action sequence or even just in the middle of Harry baking some yummy concoction for his Only, it interrupts my focus and makes me more than just a little frustrated; one hundred forty plus times frustrated, in fact.

Add to all of the above the fact that I noticed several problems with proofing in this fourth book. There were a few spacing problems besides the space and a half/single space issues. Places where the digitizing did not hyphenate, but just spaced out sentences to make the left behind words fill the line. It doesn’t look very professional.

Here are some others I noted:

At location 128 on my Kindle, there was this: “Golden preformed a very feminine move.) I would imagine she performed it, but that isn’t what was shown. At 1043 there is this: “Their head back too far for me to connect…: I’d say there was probably a “was” missing in there (and that’s ignoring the “their” used throughout that description to describe a single assailant – yeah, yeah, I know it’s not grammatically incorrect, but for me it does make for awkward reading and lots of eye rolling).

At 1682, the first page of Chapter 8, is written “…my dad would pull the station wagon to the side of the road, and we’d all crowd against the windows and watch the deer and until it bounded into the woods.” Huh? Watch the deer and what?

At 1737, what is a cold cook? That phrase is used a few times in this novel. I don’t remember it from others, so it confused me. Harry is usually pretty consistent with his sobriquets. My first impulse was to think it was a pun, sort of, on the word cuckold. Was it?

At 1791: “Would Aston Sarokhanian tell us if Colonel Jack Batten alive or just a pile of dry old bones…”

At 1843: “You land your ass is serious trouble, I can’t help you…” Kind of changes the meaning of the sentence, doesn’t it?

2300: “They scanned a bunch of pictures on their computer monitors, and one of them kept back and forth from me to the monitor.” Kept doing what back and forth?

2956 saw the start of a very confusing paragraph where Marnie is describing two women, but then, by 2971, one of them is suddenly described as male, and that description holds for the rest of the book. I kept re-reading that page trying to see what I missed. I guess you were just trying to say that he was so androgynous in appearance that Marnie mistook him for a woman when she first saw him, but, I’m sorry – it was just confusing, no matter how many times I read it.

At 4077: “…and wished I could step into his the reliable shelter of my Cold Company’s arms.” Okay.

At 4449: “…clapped his mismatches mitts together…” By now, I am shaking my head.

At 5579: “But my idea to nominate Remy for the throne had been solid, and I that.” Oh boy.

On to 6835: “I wouldn’t want to be accused to stealing a mummy’s treasure.”

At 7564: “The plane belonged to a curious Saudi prince was more than pleased to offer it when he heard….” Sigh.

At 8732: “I could puke on somebody’s boots and maybe cling to an ankle or to.” Oh boy. To, too, or two – which to choose?

At 8765: “…they want to watch you to ruin me.” I realize that the speaker is not an English-first-language speaker, but I don’t think the wordage shown was meant to show that. I think it was just a mistake that a proofreader should have noticed.

At 9202: “Letting me know this through the Bond was his was of seeking forgiveness.”

And another thing I though strange was the capitalization of the word felt (or in at least one case, feel) for times when Marnie received something through the bond she shared because of her DaySitter status. I checked for that capitalization in the books previous to this one and didn’t find it in any of them (one of the reasons I love reading on the Kindle is the ease in checking things through a simple digital search). In this book, it appears at least 17 times that I noted. I’m not against it, I just wondered why it suddenly appears in the fourth book when it didn’t appear in the previous three.

To be very frank, Ms. Aalto, that many errors from any other authors would have received two things: 1) a one star rating and/or 2) placement on my Goodreads “threw it at the wall” bookshelf. It is a testament to your skill at characterization, pacing, and storytelling that kept it at a higher rating.

I’m just about to start the 5th book, “Blightmare.” I did a hit and miss scan through the book and it seems that you might have gotten the one and a half to single and back again spacing problem controlled. I’m hoping you got a better proofreader too. I love your stories, but I don’t think I could take another one in the condition of this one.

Believe it or not, I’m a big fan.

Kat Lebo
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Reading Progress

October 21, 2017 – Started Reading
October 21, 2017 – Shelved
October 30, 2017 – Finished Reading

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