Thursday

Review: The Abduction

The Abduction The Abduction by Ester Lopez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story was good, the premise was extraordinary, but the plot integration leaves a lot to be desired. Loved the set up, but with no explanation of why the girl mis-identified Adam as Dram (the criminal she was chasing for 10 years) was confusing. Then the Ah-ha moment that they looked exactly the same except for age. Should have taken note on the fact Genesis didn't look closely enough at the young man to see he wasn't the older man. That says a lot about her character.

As an editor, there were a lot of plot holes, and some plot point mistakes that make this hard to read. I thought we'd put behind us the days where females made stupid decisions. If a person has been chasing criminals as a bounty hunter for 10 years -- even if it has only been 1 criminal -- this person would have rubbed elbows with other criminal types for 10 years and would/should be able to see through motives and traps. My suspension of belief went out the window.

Romance rarely mixes well with adventure. It is extremely hard to do it well. Most of the time, main character A likes main character B's body and face and falls into "love" that is really lust. It is basically the same thing here. There is no reason why Adam should fall in love with Genesis except those chemistry fizzes that fizzle out. Plenty of reasons Genesis should fall for Adam as he is kind, caring, honest, and high integrity level (keeps promises). But she doesn't know that right away, so why fall in love? It doesn't make any sense. They aren't together long enough to get to know each other well enough to fall in love.

The premonitions are a contrivance that doesn't work all that well. They don't help Adam so, why have them? Therefore, plot ploy doesn't work well or move the story along. They don't create tension. However, the telepathy does work, and I really like the way it's sort of learning how to walk for Adam.

Faith in God is not really explored until about half way into the story. There are some aspects of this part of the story line that are really good. I like that we don't have to wonder about who God is. But, bolding the Vaedra words just detract from the story flow. Using 2 different words for napkin is not necessary and leaves the reader wondering why use 2 different words? The Vaedra language is not part of the story, so skip over those mind traps.

Here is a bit of advice for the author and other newbie authors out there: When writing adventure, or mystery, or suspense, keep the kisses and fondling well toward the end of the story. Give each character plenty of reasons to fall for each other and your readers will love them, too.

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Wednesday

Review: Broken Chain

Broken Chain Broken Chain by Julia David
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderful love story with a very unusual "hero." I love Ben, but he drove me crazy. Margaret had some things to learn as well. Great character development, great journey toward love, and the song lyrics at the end are beautiful.

Great story premise. I'm not sure how I like Ben's relationship with Nadine, but it is so true how young people confuse love with those chemistry fizzies. But Ben finally sees the light not just about what love really is, but also sees himself through the eyes of God.

I know there are a lot of folks who buy into other people's opinions thinking that is truth. I didn't learn how false that is until my divorce driving back from Arizona. It was as if God embraced me, enfolding me in His hand and told me that the only person I needed to worry about pleasing was Himself. What a freeing moment that was. Especially when Bible study showed me I was acceptable to Him the instant I took His Son into my heart as my Savior.

I have never seen this fact illustrated in a work of fiction before. Great insight.

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Friday

Review: Song of Blood & Stone

Song of Blood & Stone Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wonderful, intriguing, great story premise, and good writing combine to make this novel a good read. However, there are some factors involved that you need to be aware of. There is a graphic rape scene about 17% into the book. There is also some graphic, and nasty violence.

Just beware.

Character development is very good. There is quite a bit of backstory, and I'm not sure how crucial that is for the rest of the story, although it does help to develop the characters and motivations.

Well written and well turned phrases, in some places rather lyrical. This is just more adult fare than I am used to and that is why I couldn't go past the 20% mark. So it this review is not all it should be.

I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This review was published here and on Upon Reflection http://uponreflectionblog.blogspot.com simultaneously. Tweeted and Facebooked

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Review: Terminal Core

Terminal Core Terminal Core by Lynn Steigleder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Terminal Core has been described in other reviews rather well, so I'll skip the story premise except to say that it is the most original I've read since "Stranger in a Strange Land" ages and eons ago. Unlike space westerns such as "Firefly" by Joss Whedon, this novel has beasties and alien species along with humans. This is a combo sci-fi, horror, and western. Intriguing combination, however the science is extremely light.

It is a very interesting read, but there are a few problems that I hope the author, Lynn Steigleder, takes to heart. The number of characters and their backstories are almost insurmountable to consume in one novel. This book would make a tremendous outline for a 3-book series where the characters are explored so the reader can learn to love (or hate) them. Character development is okay as it is, but trying to get to know them and care about what happens to them is almost impossible because there are so many of them. They are likable for the most part.

About the short chapters and jumping around in points of view (POV). The problem isn't necessarily head jumping for the POV, it is that there are zero transitions from one jump to the next. When an author tells a story from several POV, there should be a one-sentence to one paragraph transition that leads into (causes a question to rise in the reader's mind) the next character's POV. For a smooth story flow transitions are crucial unless the abrupt change is intentional to cause tension as part of the story flow. There is a lot of jumping around in this novel and it makes for a choppy sort of flow. Sometimes this works very well in this novel as the action starts to speed up. Other times it is frustrating.

However, if you don't really care about writing craft and just want to read an unusual sci-fi/horror/western, then this is good reading fare for you.

I received this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review. This review was published simultaneously here on Goodreads and on my review blog Upon Reflection: http//uponreflectionblog.blogspot.com

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Tuesday

Review: The Finistu Connection

The Finistu Connection The Finistu Connection by Terry Higham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Talk about a very unique sci-fi story! You've got a wonderful experience coming.

Terry Higham has crafted a lovely sci-fi romance, and has handled the problem of space travel in an extraordinary twist. It's worth reading just for that... but that's the cart before the horse so to speak.

We've got Jane, a detective in England who has a weird murder to solve. And we've got Ianu who is from the planet Finistu who committed the not-homicide (it's only a homicide if a human kills a human), so I guess this would be aliencide by self-defense.

There are quite a few UK colloquialisms that I, as an American, didn't understand. Those did not become a story-flow dam, though. I think because the story is so good, you just overlook things that get in the way. There were some typos and grammar errors, not story-flow dams either. However, some gave me "reader's pause" trying to figure out what was meant.

The romance is quite intriguing because it is between Ianu and Jane. I like the way Higham handles the burgeoning romance, the way each one considers the cost of such a romance. I also like the way the attraction between the two is handled that sets up truly great anticipation for a culmination of the romance. And then we have a delightful handling of that--would it be interspecies?--marriage.

Go get your copy! It's well worth your time and money to read this book.

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Review: Son of a Predator

Son of a Predator Son of a Predator by David Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can identify with David Davis and what Todd Davis, the sociopath, put him through. I wish everyone who has been a victim of this kind of abuse could read this book. It is a culmination of a lot of experiences and how David wrestled with his feelings and how he finally overcame the abuse.

It is a different kind of abuse that is rarely talked about and very rarely recognized. The co-dependency is another problem that very few victims recognize they are suffering from. I especially loved how David's faith helped him to overcome. Few people in the Hollywood circuit have the courage to do so. However, the content can be extremely helpful to anyone who lives with, works with, or has a relationship with a bullying sociopath. Todd is not just a narcissist, but a man without a conscience, and has no real inkling of right from wrong. Those kinds of people are extremely dangerous, and very manipulative.

David Davis paints the picture well. However, the 4-star review instead of 5-stars is because the book really, really needs some professional editing. There are typos and grammar errors, but those are not story-flow-dams. It's the wordiness, and passive tenses that bog down this memoir. After the first three incidents/trips, the reader gets the gist of just how horrible Todd Davis is. Also, there is a question of motivations behind the book.

David says the main motivation is to help anyone trapped in this kind of relationship. Perhaps it would help others to read a little more about how to overcome and a little less of the abuse, although I do get it that it takes the brilliance of a search light in order to recognize what one is living through at abnormal. So, maybe I'm wrong on that score.

Anyway, after overcoming something similar with my ex-husband who finally did see the light and with the help of Jesus, turned his life around, I can certainly identify with David's pain and with his joy of overcoming. I'm praying for you David.

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Friday

Review: Chipless

Chipless Chipless by Kfir Luzzatto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great premise for sci-fi fans and dystopian fans. The story centers around a man raised in a pristine, disinfected world where people are controlled by seeing things/feeling things that really aren't there such as pastoral scenes outside their city. (I wondered why people didn't want to go sit under the trees and enjoy the meadow scents wafting to them on gentle breezes, but they doggedly go to work every day in the City. However, everyone in the City is told what to do and how to feel and what to smell and what to work on, etc.)

The characters are very well developed with unique characteristics. I think Kfir Luzzatto did a great job with developing and overcoming Kal's disorientation after his chip blitzes out in a physics experiment. Amber, the other main character, is equally well-developed. Even though she plays tough, she still has a softness about her and a bit of naivety that works.

The story bogs down a little in the middle of the book, gets a bit wordy on their quest to reach Freeland. But the pace picks up quite a bit as Kal and Amber work to keep Freeland free.

All in all it is a good read. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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Saturday

Review: The Weaver's Daughter

The Weaver's Daughter The Weaver's Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the Netgalley copy I received in exchange for my honest review, there are several mistakes in continuity, typos, and a lot of wordiness. This is published by Thomas Nelson, so I doubt you'll find those same gaffs, but there were enough to jar my reading pleasure so bear that in mind in reading this review.

I really liked this book. The story is one of prejudice, greed, principles, and how loyalty can be blind, with romance interwoven as tightly as a 400-thread count sheet.

The premise is a good one taking place within the context of the beginning of industrialized fabric milling and weaving. Interesting backdrop for the romance between the offspring of two warring families--sound familiar? Fortunately, the end is not as heartbreaking as Romeo and Juliette.

I found it very difficult to suspend belief that a supposed independent woman could be so gullible and blinded by loyalty to her father who tossed out her brother when he went to work for the rival family's mill. The father had such a hatred for this rival family, it spoiled his character. I just think it shouldn't have taken so long to discover his duplicity. But, they do say that love is blind. Maybe loyalty becomes a habit and is blind as well.

The characters are well-developed, even the supporting cast right down to housekeeping and kitchen help. There is enough action to keep one riveted through the long passages of character angst, second-guessing, and fretting over what was and what will be. Hopefully, good editing will remove a lot of that hashing and rehashing.

The setting is in England in a tiny town close to the moors. So you know the damp cold is deeply biting, but when reading this you don't really feel the cold, or taste the era. To the author it is just place and time with no elaboration or thought to helping the reader settle into the time, the place, and the feel of the environment. There are quite a few misuses of words. For example Ladd uses "banter" for a serious discussion. That kind of word misuse really bothers me. So I skipped over a lot of, what I thought of as, unnecessary pages of dialogue and especially narrative. But I did read to the end.

Anyhoot, the story line and story flow is pretty good, and it seems the historical accuracy is also pretty good. Although, I still don't know what shearing sheep has to do with the gig-mills, or why millers and weavers are so different. Still, you'll enjoy the character development, but if you are into period drama and well-described historical settings--you won't get it here.

All that said, I still give it four of five stars.

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Tuesday

Review: Refugees

Refugees Refugees by R.A. Denny
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I agreed to review this book because the author said, "Since you enjoyed "Cast of Stones" perhaps you'll enjoy my book "Refugees." I adored "Cast of Stones." But this book is nothing like that. Disclaimer: Received this book from the authors in exchange for my honest opinion.

Creating you own world for fantasy or sci-fi is really hard work. I appreciate more than you know how hard. Denny did a great job creating the world and each of the regions each of the characters resided. I enjoyed that very much.

Denny started this series very well, tremendous suspense and heartless cruelty. It set the stage for a good story... except the follow through was too plodding to really care about the characters. As an editor, it is much better to start the story with one or two characters and add other characters as the first character meets them on his/her journey to save the world. Denny didn't do that. Each character is a main character and had his/her own introduction so the reader could understand the region and customs of each wildly different main character. This plot tactic was jolting, had no transitions, kept me from caring about them as a reader should who needs to be involved in the story.

The writing is good. Descriptions are very good. World building is good. Premise is good. Character building could use some work. Story flow and editing need more work.

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Wednesday

Review: No Less Days

No Less Days No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What would it be like to never die from a terminal illness or gunshot or crippling disease or bone-crushing accident?

Amanda Stevens explores the answer to that question. She is an excellent writer who creates believable worlds, believable characters, and satisfying stories.

In this first in a series, Stevens develops a complicated story of life longevity that squeezes tension into every muscle. The premise is intriguing. There's a handful of people who have been living for about 150 years, and no matter what happens to them, they can't die--even a 8,000-foot fall into a rocky canyon.

The characters are very 3-dimensional with quirks and complications that have solidified the faith of some and twisted the perversions of one. You can't help but care deeply about each one, especially the handsome, book-loving, book store owner, main character, David Galloway.

Five of five stars. Enjoy your romance with David... or is his name John?

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Saturday

Review: The Rogue

The Rogue The Rogue by Lee W. Brainard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love science. When sci-fi is packed with good science, I'm in reading heaven. This is a great premise and much better executed and believable than most end-of-world story plots. Quite frighteningly believable. All the science fits together very well. Very interesting that the Rogue is coming from the Seven Sisters (Pleiades) in Taurus. Everything seems to happen in Orion these days, so I was pleased to see Taurus pop up.

But this book proves the norm of real-science/fictional stories however. Most science-based novels are top-heavy with science and very weak on character development, and have a rather disjointed story flow with zero transitions from one point of view to the next. That kind of writing makes it very hard to get caught up in the story and really care about what happens to the characters.

Brainard does a pretty good job with helping you to care about the characters. The most likable one is Woody, although it was tough to figure out who he was at first. Introducing Ariele first and then switching to Irina would have been okay except the two characters that were supposed to be so opposite (Ariele = free spirit, hippy-like, Irina = conservative Christian) actually acted so similar I couldn't tell them apart until well into the story. Also, beyond them being athletic, they had very few physical features and no speech patterns that were different so they blended together.

The flip-flop in time and characters at the beginning is very confusing. I guess I was just supposed to know that the description of the two women at the beginning was giving me clues at how different the characters were so I could tell them apart. Good plot point that didn't come off at all. Another bit of confusion is the lack of transitions from one POV to another. The itallics helps to differentiate between characters' thoughts, but then head-hopping drives me crazy anyway, so I might be prejudiced in that regard.

Brainard throws in news about happenings in the Middle East that could literally be taken from this morning's paper. These things did not move the story along at all, had no effect on the characters, and did not provide any tension, story line, or flashpoints in the story. I know they were to provide a set up for conflict later in the story. It would be much better for the story flow if Brainard had just left that out and introduced all that when it actually matters for the story.

This is a really good story premise. With a bit of old-fashioned developmental editing and character development, this will be a terrific series.

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Wednesday

Review: Beneath Copper Falls

Beneath Copper Falls Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought I had reviewed this book. But then I get a notification... ACK! I'm sorry Colleen, I mishandled this!

I loved this story. It was captivating, and held my interest all the way to the last page. Colleen has a great knack for keeping the pages turning. Suspenseful, some places humorous, and believable/lovable characters. All round good writing!

Five of five stars. Thank you Colleen and Netgalley for giving me this book to review in return for my honest opinion.

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