The Death of Ink
By M.M John
For the love of Pete! The Death of Ink by M.M John is such a frustrating book to read; not because it was poorly written-because it wasn't-but because the storyline went everywhere yet nowhere all at the same time. I didn't even know that was possible. My frustration gauge has officially been blown up!!
Albeit a perfect example of sentence structure and lessons about the fiction writing process weaved into the book, the storyline was completely unfocused like a river with a million tributaries leading who knows where. Our two main characters are Paige and Devon, both fiction writers and journalists for the school paper. Although one focus of John's tale is the development of their relationship with one another while Devon edits and helps her on a book she is writing to submit to a contest, there was a complete lack of resolution leaving you wondering what the heck the is going on.
I don't want to say that The Death of Ink appears to lack focus or direction but it does. Along with their supporting cast of characters, Devon and Paige stumble upon a plethora of possible minor storylines they could partake in; yet none of them head anywhere. Ugh! And don't even get me started on the fact that I often felt like I was reading an instructional "how to write fiction" book.
Although well written grammatically and in sentence structure, the images seemed canned and worn out. Instead of showing the reader how things appear, John tells the reader - things like worn jeans or blond curls. I felt there was truly a lack of stimulating imagery and that makes it quite the bore to read.
Another thing that annoyed me about this book was that there seems to be so much hot and cold with Paige and her relationships with the males in her life. From one minute to the next you can’t tell if you likes someone or doesn’t. On one page she is eager to flirt with Matthew and then ten pages later she comes across like she doesn’t even like him as a friend. I just don’t get this chick!!!
Ugh! Enough of that book! If you’re looking for a well-structured book then this one is for you. If you are a reader who wants a story that entertains or maybe has a storyline that doesn’t split off this way and that without any resolution then I suggest you choose a different book.
My Gladiator My Ghost, Part 1 and My Desire My Death, Part 2
By K.J. Babishov
My Gladiator My Ghost is the first part of an occult/romance short story in a series of short stories. My Desire My Death is part 2 in the series. I actually read part 2, My Desire My Death first and frankly I was glad I did because it was much better than part 1.
My Gladiator My Ghost finds Sophia (our heroine?) about to be released from Clarion Psychiatric Hospital where she was committed 10 years earlier; after being overdosed by her parents when she was 8 years old and having been dead for an hour before being brought back. (If you’re confused now, just wait.)
Over her 10 year stay she meets Nero, Queen Mary I, Hannibal, Martin Luther King Jr., Sir Isaac Newton, Joan of Arc, the Queen of Sheba, Lewis and Clark, Rosa Parks and …. well who knows who else. Oh, and Achilles and Hercules are regulars in her life with Achilles being her Gladiator and (I think) her ghost? (Well one of them anyway.)
Meanwhile Hitler wants revenge on America and Sophia is in love with Aaron, the son of a doctor at the hospital who she has grown up with.
Okay! On to the main plot! Ghosts don’t like being ignored and crave human interaction, which they can only get from Sophia because she died and came back. But, if she leaves the hospital, she’ll forget them and then they will solidify. (Become non-ghosts?) So, the solution is simple. Overdose her and bring her back to life again.
It’s at this point I got a migraine headache and quit trying to make sense of things. Frankly, I should have quit after part 2. The part 1 story honestly makes no sense and is so contrived it’s impossible to believe. For the stories’ characters, it’s like the author just thumbed their way through every history book they had ever read.
In part 2 Sophie is now married to Aaron and in her dreams, she runs into Hitler. Achilles and Hercules are still at her side and they not only rescue her but help guide her back to Aaron when something happens to separate them. (I don’t want to say any more as it would be a spoiler…If you can get this far.)
In addition to an unbelievable plot and characters, there are a lot of errors and spacing issues which didn’t help matters. It could do with a much better job of proofing.
In summary, the plot is weird, confusing and hard to follow in part 1 but gets better in part 2. The character selection is way out there, makes no sense, and adds only to the story being extremely hard to believe. Honestly, part 2 was much better than part 1 and held my interest even though the errors and spacing issues were distracting.
My recommendation is if you can get through part 1 and kind of make sense from it, part 2 is worth reading. Over all though, not something I would recommend reading.
By Hubert Williams
Castigation by Hubert Williams is one of those short stories you hope to find when you start reading short stories in the first place. A tale of a man and a terrible secret he holds, then the repercussions of such, Castigation has got all the makings for a great ghost story. It incorporates old magic, religion, the power of love and family, and then weighs in on what it must be like for a human to carry around the burden of a terrible secret never told to any of his closest loved ones.
George Walker was involved in a situation that would never leave his conscience-- or his life. He's a man who doesn't believe in the hogwash of the supernatural, yet is unknowingly plagued by it. It wreaks havoc on him-- his heart and soul and mind all suffer-- but on his loved ones as well. Family members and friends become ill or die, unexplained things happen to people who are working on the properties in which he's involved, and inevitably all of these things come to a head that require the help of a local shaman.
Hubert Williams is undoubtedly extraordinarily creative. You can tell he's a brilliant guy by the way he weaves religion and folklore and superstition all together to create an intricate, interesting weave, and Castigation is the kind of story I'd recommend to anyone who's interested in the paranormal. It's not *too* scary-- it didn't give me nightmares, thank goodness-- but it's definitely the kind of thing you'll think about for long after you put it down. I've already found myself wanting to tell friends about this cool story I read every time something reminds me of it. My only complaint in terms of this story is the proofreading aspect-- it is, of course, always important to proofread and proofread again, to make sure those elements don't distract the reader from the story. But ultimately, that's just nitpicking. Castigation is a great story, and I really enjoyed it.
Bad Blood Rising (The Dark Watchman Book 0)
By Jake Jeffries
Let me start with the fact that I have a love-hate relationship with this book. It is certainly not something I would select to read were it not for the fact that I was asked to rate it. Yet, I couldn’t put it down! Why? I’ll get into that.
The author lists his book as “fantasy, paranormal and urban.” The fantasy part I got. The paranormal part? Kinda. The urban? I have no idea what that means. (Books written for people living in the city? Wow, is that stuck up or what!) Me? I would rate this book as; cheesy, vampire-ish, paranormal comedy, suburban. All meant in a good way! (I just threw the suburban in to have a little fun.)
Bad Blood Rising centers around Vangetsu Ocelot, a super powered vampire who is chasing Mathias, another super powered vampire who killed Vangetsu’s family way back when. Along the way he meets and couples up with: Ramona, Deputy to the Grim Reaper; Jason, a gay vampire; Selene, a witch full of magical power; and Odin, a one-eyed kitten who becomes his faithful companion and saves his ass several times.
In the beginning of each chapter there are cartoon like caricatures that will forever change how you view vampires (including the gay ones), witches, wizards and one eyed kittens. Along about chapter 5 or so they recruit him into the Legion of Light with the following plea (and bribes):
“Become an agent of The Legion of Light. We could use your help especially with the casualties from the factory and the troll attack last night. You get free housing, free nourishment, get to kill or capture bad guys and best of all you get a bitchin’ new duster.” (I especially like the “bitchin duster” and now I want one!)
Anyway, he soon finds out that his daughter isn’t dead and that Mathias and his organization (the Order of Darkness) changed her name from Eliza to Helena (Which is why he couldn’t find her?) and now they plan to kill her. During his quest he and his team run into werewolves, witches, wizards, arachnobots, ninjas, vampires electric bullets, ice bullets and…well a lot of things.
I could go on and on but instead I’ll tell you that the story starts a little slow and gets cheesier and funnier as it goes. Yes, it’s cheesy but in a good way. The writing is just so, so with a lot of unnecessary descriptions, short choppy sentences and errors that occasionally get to be annoying.
In summary this is not my kind of vampire book. But if you’re into fantasy and paranormal books and live in the city (?), this book is for you! A cute, funny read worth your time!
PS Keep writing Jake! You’re a great story (fable) teller and with a few corrections, you’re going to make a wonderful author.
(A note from A. Fae, For those who haven't figured it out, Bob enjoys writing certain reviews laced with humor. And we love it!)
Evil Runs: A Supernatural Mystery Thriller (Evil World Book 1)
By Vince Milam
The story of good versus evil is as old as time. Hollywood has made the battle between the two a part of our popular culture in more films than I can count. A particular storyline often on the silver-screen is the fight for the life of an innocent person who has been possessed by demons. In films like the iconic Exorcist, or more recently The Rite, demons are exorcised from the innocent with the backing of the Catholic Church. Evil Runs by Vince Milam is an impeccably written supernatural/action-adventure piece with a new, super-modern stance on the familiar storyline. I can tell you now that it was a struggle to put this excellent book down. From almost the very beginning you just have this feeling that you're in for the smoothest ride you can imagine.
Cole Garza, the sheriff of Aransas County, Texas, is no stranger to loss and evil, having lost his wife to murder some time back. But when a crazed killer attacks a nursing home, killing a handful of people and setting the place aflame, evil has a new face. His name is Moloch. Although no one saw this man who oozes evil partake in the murders or fire that ensued, he was on the scene and Cole is certain he has more to do with this horrendous crime than meets the eye.
Enter Father Francois. With the support of the Vatican, Francois shows up in Rockport requesting to be a part of the investigation and search for Moloch without giving reasons beyond that he is on a mission to eradicate evil as a reason why Cole should involve him. Although Cole is more than hesitant, word comes from quite high up that he should cooperate with the Vatican’s request and work with Francois, who he soon learns is quite the personality. With his new snakeskin belt and cigarette in hand, the French priest is ready to join the hunt.
Now add in the obsessive/compulsive, socially inept, computer whiz, Nadine May, and you've got an unstoppable crime fighting trio. As Nadine tracks Moloch first to Wales and later Syria, it is quickly realized she is a crucial member of the team, her crush on Cole aside. Nadine is completely ecstatic about the chance to become a field operative as opposed to the operative stuck behind the computer screen.
The three race to track down Moloch, each with their own reasons. Their personal journeys are just as important as finding Moloch.
Evil Runs was super well written and edited. The storyline was great. I enjoyed that it was modern enough to include some of the current events of our time into it. My only criticism would be the ending. I felt that it was super rushed with very little detail, leaving me feel a bit let down. Now I realize this was just the first book in the series, but as with many others that are the start of a series I felt that everything was left open for the sake of a reader getting the next book. I don’t find that all too unreasonable, but I really wanted more for the ending even though I’d like to read the next book in the series as well.
Within Part I – A Short Story
By Christian Edwards
Within is a short story about Amanda and Jonathan who go on vacation to Victoria Island. After arriving, they meet newlyweds Raymond and Kara, who also chose to vacation on the island. Both couples are in their early twenties and the only tourists on the island so, as you would expect, they end up doing things together.
However, things start to turn weird as they check into the only motel on the island and rapidly get weirder as the two couples have breakfast then meet again on the beach.
Sorry, but like the story, I’m going to leave you hanging because I don’t want to give anything away.
Within bit me by the middle of page two and by the time I got to “To be continued” I was totally hooked. Part I does an excellent job setting the stage for what I believe will be an intriguing supernatural story. I say supernatural but reserve the right to change my mind since I don’t know where Part II will take us! And, yes, I definitely plan to read Part II!
Edwards is an outstanding storyteller and this story will suck you in. Even though I don’t know where the plot is going it’s still great. The characters are perfectly developed and relatable and Edward’s writing skills are wonderful. Yes, I really like this story! Definitely a must read that will have you reaching for Part II.
Faerie Tale, Ashen
By R'Lee Coffey
Faerie Tale, Ashen by R'Lee Coffey, a part of a surprisingly awesome series of paranormal romance books, is gifted with a remarkably great storyline. Packed full of interesting characters-each with depth and their own story to tell-and beautiful imagery at times, it's one of those books you look forward to picking up to read again and again and not put down until it's finished. Unfortunately, that's where my praise ends and the hopefully helpful critique begins.
First, the good news…As aforementioned, I truly loved the story Coffey told through the eyes of Ashen Black, a faerie who plays an intricate role in a guild of faeries to which she is the conduit. We meet her as she regains consciousness on a bluff alone with no recollection of how or why she is there other than a note warning her not to trust anyone. To top it off she realizes rather quickly that she remembers next to nothing at all about anything.
Faerie Tale, Ashen-being the first in the series-is not only an introduction to Ashen Black but to the other faeries in the guild. We learn a bit about each of them while Ashen struggles along trying to figure out not only what happened to her but also who she can and cannot trust. As we learn about the guild from Ashen's often confused POV or observations, a bit of chaos ensues for the reader when trying to comprehend the actual level of experience each of them has with their abilities or knowledge about the past, present and future as it pertains to being a faerie. At one point it seems like the entire guild is inexperienced and need to learn so much, then the next moment they're controlling the elements like old pros.
Unfortunately we must go on to the not-so-good and bad news. Faerie Tale, Ashen has more errors than I can count on my fingers and toes. Coffey's book is a colossal grammar mess. From incorrect usage of the em dash, to the separation of compound words; it appears to lack any type of proofreading or editing. Careless mistakes such as leaving a word out of a quote by Tony Robbins or the misspelling of one crucial paranormal group of beings; this book is littered with them.
Typically if the errors don't really impact the flow of a storyline I try to only mention it briefly, but the multitude of obvious errors in this one I couldn't just let go of-especially since I'm in love with the storyline and characters. In this case, I became exasperated with having to read a sentence and then read it again to make sure I understood the meaning. I think with editing Faerie Tale, Ashen could be the beginning of a truly amazing series with limitless possibilities for more books to follow. If I were to rate it based on storyline alone it would receive a perfect score. But, unfortunately when it comes to the written word, storyline alone isn’t all that counts!
By Robin Murphy
Sullivan’s Island is an idyllic seaside community with beautiful beaches and historical landmarks that make it a great place to travel but an even greater place to call home. That’s where Dr. Marie Bartek has settled, becoming the community’s veterinarian. However, there is more to the doc than most know. She has gifts that emerged as a child to where she can see spirits; gifts that have been absent for many years but have returned recently for reasons unknown.
One might think in a town as small as hers that having special gifts might make you a pariah; however, on Sullivan’s Island it’s nothing to hide away. As a matter of fact there is a small group of individuals who are interested in beginning a group of sorts; Sullivan Island Paranormal Society or SIPS for short.
As the group begins to organize, a pair of spirits begins desperately trying to communicate with Marie. At first it is difficult to understand what they are saying as her gifts are rusty one might say. However, as their message becomes clearer, she realizes they are trying to communicate with her about a recent rash of murders occurring in her town. With the help of the SIPS team, can Marie stop the next murder from happening? Or is there a possibility that the life she could be saving could be her own?
I began the Marie Bartek series by Robin Murphy for the same reason I begin any book, an author's request. In this case I didn't exactly do as requested simply because I was asked to read the two most recent of the series. However, as I began to read the second in a series of three I felt I needed background information that could only be garnered from reading the first. So, that is how I happened upon Sullivan's Secret. And I’m glad I read the first one because it was a great read.
As far as a storyline goes, I thought Sullivan’s Secret had a slightly abbreviated one. It’s safe to say I felt it was a bit rushed. Everything seemed to be in overdrive, not allowing the story to truly develop. The character development was adequate, but again it was in a full sprint. Even our primary characters weren’t developed as much as l typically like to see. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the confusion caused by the formatting and changes in POV from Marie to our murderer. Although told in 3rd person, the storyline would be following Marie and then without notice would switch to our killer. I have to say it became quite confusing and odd for several paragraphs to realize what actually had happened.
All in all, I would say that Sullivan’s Secret was a great, quick read. Although not as developed as I would like, it was interesting to solve to crime with the SIPS team and the help from Marie’s spirits. I’d definitely recommend this book to not only those who enjoy paranormal pieces, but also those who like a mystery/crime/who-dun-it type of book. As it stands now there are three books that follow this one; Secret of the Big Easy, Federal City’s Secret, and Secret of Coffin Island. All three are part of the Marie Bartek and the SIPS Team series. I’m definitely going to check these out as well and I encourage you to do so too!.
Wyvern Diary by Dahraan du Toit is the kind of book that sounds really, really cool. I'd just come off the tail end of another book involving dragons, so I was really eager and excited to get into this one. And the thing is, it has some incredibly great ideas. You can tell when you're reading this one that there's been a lot of creative energy put into it, that the author really knows his stuff and is passionate and interested in the story he's telling. I love that in a book, I love feeling like the person who's telling me this story is someone who's really feeling the world they've created, because it makes me want to get involved in it too.
That being said, I ended up struggling with this one. I think there are great ideas in it, but they're buried under a whole lot of action scenes that didn't seem to make a lot of sense to me. Everything felt extremely rushed <i>except</i> the action. I had a hard time connecting to characters because I didn't get a chance to get to know them. It felt a lot like what we were doing was reading a novel about fight scenes-- which is great, if that's your thing, because there's tons of action in this book! I was just not really sure exactly what we were ever fighting for except for the sake of fighting. I found the plot pretty tough to follow-- mainly, I suppose, because I'm still not exactly sure what the plot was at all. We viewed the story from the eyes of Steve, a teenager who has been thrust into a world that must be reclaimed for humanity. We battle all sorts of creatures, strange hybrids borne of biological warfare, and giant dragons and wyverns and monsters galore. But I'm still not exactly sure what we were meant to be doing other than fighting those guys for no reason except that they got int he way of some mission that I never quite understood.
Wyvern Diary is the kind of book that could be extraordinary. Like I said, the ideas in it are really great at their bare bones, I think they just need to be fleshed out a little more. The creativity that went into creating all the different creatures is phenomenal and shouldn't be negated. The issue I found, however, is that the emotional content should be expanded on and the action sorta cut down and limited, just so the reader will have a chance to actually care about the outcome. I think what Dahraan du Toit really needs is just to keep practicing-- work on developing plot exposition and getting information to the reader and our hero without it being so obvious. I could see clearly where certain things happened in order to facilitate plot movement, but they seemed too convenient to really work for me. But then, writing a novel isn't the kind of thing someone learns to do overnight. I think with more experience and more practice, Dahraan's stuff could be really great, and I'm looking forward to it.
By Amanda Scott