I write, read and review, I blog frequently and love anything to do with books and writing, including editing. I am a Book Nerd and I wear that badge with pride. http://coffee2words.wordpress.com
Overall this bundle consists of four short shifter/biker stories. The pace of the stories was fast, the characterisation minimal for the most part, and the backstory almost non-existent.
I liked some of the stories, but others I really disliked. The feel of the bundle was rushed and unfinished, unlike Rebecca's other polished series, this one leaves a bit to be desired.
Things I noticed:
12% - ...at the very top of least (left) breast...
16% - ...are you going to put it (in) my...
42% - His (He) adored her with his eyes.
This is a very short tale about the owner of a cargo ship 'The Black-Eyed Susan' who runs into trouble with money lenders.
There's not a great deal of characterisation to go on, but I feel like a solid story could be made about The Black-Eyed Susan and its crew. Which I'm happy to say is just what J.A. Clement has done. This is book #0.3 of the On Dark Shores series. I have already read On Dark Shores: The Lady.
The emotional impact was missing from this, but I suppose it can be very difficult to pack a punch in a few pages.
If you like your sailor stories, this might be the first taste of something you'll enjoy devouring.
Everything I've ever wanted is a short story about a stay-at-home mum who locks away her secret life from the family and kids. But once she gets a letter, she can't hide it any longer.
This would be an epic dream come true for most people who share the infliction the protagonist does.
I didn't twig what the secret was until the mention of the purchased devices after her first attempt.
Great little tale Tony.
This edition of Aurealis sees the neo-noir 'Enfolded', from J Michael Melican and the punchy 'Discarded Pieces' from David Coleman making a splash.
I enjoyed both stories, but Enfolded was something extremely unique. I would have liked to learn more about the characters past, which was hinted at, and know what the future held for him. A truly interesting piece that outshone the other piece easily.
Having said that, though, both pieces are well written and formed part of a nice edition, including some advise for self-publishing and promotion as well as a handful of reviews on books.
I really liked the cover art of this edition.
Overall this collection of stories only made up approx 70% of the book (the rest was dedicated to promotion of the author's other works) and left quite a bit to be desired. There weren't really any creepy stories here, and the 'horror' was in very small quantities.
My favourite story by quite a way was 'Death comes for Maggie McDaniel' because of the haunting sadness and the fact that it was a well written and interesting tale. I would definitely read more by Grayson Bray Morris, Pamela Turner, Donna Johnson and William Meikle. The rest I probably wouldn't bother.
I feel that the four best stories are dragged down a bit by the others that get a nudge into the realm of good because they're being carried by the four better stories. Not a great collection, but an OK way to spend a couple of hours if you want a not very scary collection of stories.
Story specific thoughts below:
Out of Order - 3 stars
This one has a single horrible animal scene, which is written off in one or two lines. The horror aspects were not a problem, a bit simple, like a child witnessing a murder, too simplistic to be very impactful. A shame really because the idea is interesting.
Our lady of the toads - 3 stars
Witches tale that reads quickly but doesn't really offer anything new. Not a bad read, but a touch boring.
Family Heirloom - 4 stars
An interesting idea, but the story was over too quickly. I'd have liked to see the story teased out a bit more.
Ring of stones - 4 stars
A really short tale rich with imagery and sensory information. But a glimpse, captivating.
Death comes for Maggie McDaniel - 4.5 stars
A sad tale, full of character and loss. I only wish it were a touch longer so the blow to guts had the impact it deserves. Lovely writing.
Creatures of the night - 4 stars
The creepiest story so far tied in with the character being a writer so it's an instant win for me. The pace is quick, detail light but enough to paint a picture.
Druid stones - 2.5 stars
The story gallops along to its own tune, the ending obvious from a mile off. A lot of flowery wording that could be cut to make the story stronger.
The Loft - 2 stars
Rather boring, even what should have been tense moments lacked any sort of urgency. Repetition and an annoying MC made for an uninteresting or engaging story.
Life in miniature - 3.5 stars
A great idea, but over far too quickly. This should have been teased out, hints dropped etc. Who is Susan? Who is Michael? A little more character behind them would make this a great story.
You have one message - 3 stars
Probably the creepiest only because of the unknown factor and the panic written on the characters faces. The story offered little by way of characterization, but for once this worked because it allowed the faceless masses to form and show mass hysteria even in a small window of opportunity with limited character visibility. Still, there were too many unanswered questions and not enough content to really make this stand on its own.
**Note: I won an electronic copy of this book through the Booklikes giveaway program**
Forbidden is a short introduction to Elle Thorn's Never After Dark series, a white tiger shapeshifter romance.
While the story takes a pretty tried and true course - impossibly handsome, but broody Adonis-esque Alpha male is single despite all odds and happens upon the perfectly normal, slightly unique and not model material woman who has no idea about shifters. They fall into bed together and then into mated love - and offers nothing new to the paranormal romance or shifter romance genres, the writing flowed well and was an easy read.
Despite the expected outcome and actions by the characters, I did actually like Jax, at least up until she didn't bat an eyelid at something that should have caused even some sort of reaction.
Rafe is fairly generic alpha material, all animalistic and domineering, broody dark god that he is. He seems to be part porn star too, his ability to make Jax gush seemed a little too easy.
Overall this is an enjoyable, quick paranormal shifter romance with a little sexy time. Nothing groundbreaking or fresh, but still entertaining and engaging.
One thing I noticed:
22% - Chapter is at the top of the paragraph text.
**Note: I was given an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Ok, so the time it took me to read this is not an indication of my disinterest or lack of engagement to the story, instead I ended up doing NaNoWriMo and a massive work project in between August and Dec.
That aside, Nica's tale certainly contained a lot of interesting and original ideas. The world building was fresh and the characters rather amusing.
I think my favourite characters were Miles and Monk, purely because of the intellectual way they spoke and sense of humour. I also found I developed a bit of a soft spot for Hernandez.
Where this story fell over for me was in a couple of ways. The length: at only 302 pages, the story felt densely packed and far, far longer than 302 pages.
The pace: the characters were rushing through from one thing to the next, and one frame to the next so fast it became a little too much and things started to blur. Perhaps a few less scene changes and story plot points would help alleviate the feeling of being rushed.
Nica's character and personality might irritate some readers. I found her mildly annoying at times, but amusing at others.
Some of the length could be clipped further with a heavy-handed editor, but the overall finish of the book was good.
One thing I noticed:
3% - blood-?-soaked (not sure why there's a question mark hyphenated between these two words).
*Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
Individually these stories range from 1-4 stars, but all together the book just doesn't stand up as a polished piece of work. There are some really great ideas within, but they need some work to make them stand on their own, or even in a collection of short pieces. Some of the ideas really need a lot more room to develop, while others are clearly aimed at the titillation crowd but they just don't mesh well with the rest of the pieces.
I've got some comments on each piece below:
She marries her
Sweet and tender, the blushing brides are a nice read, except the end felt a bit too much for the rest of the piece. If you're going to go with sweet and tender, leave it there. Don't go for too much. There's also a few adverbs and adjectives I'd pull to strengthen the story, but overall a nice story.
Are Angels Allowed to swear?
Interesting premise, nice, albeit swift lead up to and complete sex scene, but reasonable. The story on the whole was more of a glimpse than a whole story.
4 stars (really needs to be longer!!)
Scars of War
What a sad story. The beginning started so peacefully, only to be shattered by war, fighting and death. I feel this one could benefit from being longer to give the reader a better picture of the world and belief system. In the story as it is, only a small glimpse is possible.
Way too short, not enough of anything to really get into.
Wava and Claire
Paranormal vampires and a heap of backstory thrown at the reader. Too short to work well, too much info dumping. Not enough characterisation to really set the tone. Some editing required to smooth the adjectives and adverbs not needed.
There is so much wrong with this story it's not funny. Too much gushing, both characters are experts in bed when they've only just met, they each have way too many orgasms, the intimacy is too much and in general there's just too much of everything. Totally unbelievable and clearly written for the titillation crowd, not those who might want more of a story.
One thing I noticed: '...and slowly start moving my fingers in and out of her quickly.'
**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
While the finish of the story on the whole was a little rough around the edges (see things I noticed at the end of the review), the pace was fast enough that the issues didn't detract from the story being told.
Some seriously messed up people in this book, none more so than that creepy little mistress of murder. She's enough to seed nightmares for months.
Horrific in some of its simplicity, Rape Van offers a twisted view into the lives of serial killers. It included some imaginative ideas and sadistic scenes. One wicked little ride that will likely scare the bejesus out of readers and turn stomachs of all but a hardened few gore veterans.
I would have liked more time spent with the victims, it felt a little rushed at times, which detracted from the impact of some of the scenes.
An easy read in one sitting, if you dare.
The first Tim Miller read for me, but it won't be the last.
A few things I noticed:
Pg 9 - ...Why did you do that?" Mar(t)in screamed.
Pg 21 - Mar(t)in had gone completely hysterical...
Pg 56 - ...I'll get in(it) in the oven...
Pg 61 - chapter 6 needs to be on a new page.
Pg 189 - The(y) did pull back some, at least.
My first Shane McKenzie book and while not as disturbing as I was expecting, still enough gore and violence to keep me reading.
I didn't love nor hate this, but I can't really fault it either because it is what it is. Graphic horrific content. I felt a little removed from the action in this, almost as if I were a spectator behind glass. It might have been the character and my inability to relate to him, more than any writing style or technique.
Certainly not for those with weak stomachs or sympathetic vomiters, Fat off sex and violence should intrigue as much as it disturbs with its graphic content and explosive conclusion.
I'm keen to see what else Shane has on offer, this will not be the last of his I read.
You know when you have a great idea, and you're really excited to explore that great idea, delve deep into it and have a poke around to see if it really is a great idea?! Well, sadly, I fear that Rudolf could have done a bit more digging and a bit more polishing of what he found.
The outline of the story is reasonable. In fact I'd argue that it's a rather ingenious idea, but alas the way in which it was executed fell far, far below the mark.
The main character, Richard, is a useless imbecile. He's not even funny when he thinks he's being funny. He's abrasive and immature and immediately put me off reading the story. The female characters also leave little to be desired, Mia is snarky and rude, Anna: a poster child for mental health issues managed poorly and don't even get me started on Richard's best friend...
The writing is stilted and repetitive to the nth degree. At several points in the book there's about 15 lines that start with the same few words. The same ideas and concepts are hashed and rehashed and driven so far into the reader's face it's almost as invasive as having your eyes examined by an optometrist.
The way in which society crumbled in the book seemed rather explosive, but not so far outside of the realm of possible that it wasn't believable, at least a little. If the writing were more palatable I might have allowed some of the other issues, but sadly all together this was a pretty average read. I'm quite glad it was a freebie.
I liked the idea, but loathed the execution of the book. I honestly couldn't recommend it, unless you wanted editing practice.
A few things I noticed:
36-37% pay phone is hyphenated in one instance and not in another.
57% - We walk(talk) about waiting on the couch...
92% - I can't breath(e) and I reach...
The other half of my heart is much like making a loaf of bread.
It requires attention, and time to formulate the finished product. The process is, at times, complex and the end result is delightful but somewhat expected.
Now I've finished with the similes, we can get into the review. The characters were very realistic. I quite liked the damaged quality of them all in the beginning, they felt like real people, but things got a little tedious about 60% through. I wanted to see more character development. It felt like it was all a little too slow.
The plot and character arcs were obvious from about 20% in. So if you like your books to be a bit mysterious you probably won't like this one. If you enjoy a quiet, sweet romp through a slightly romance-ish story with middle-aged protagonists then jump on board.
If you like horses this one is a story for you. In fact, this reminded me of a grown up version of the Saddle club books, aimed at adults but maintaining that horsey-focus which was a welcome change from the rather adult books I normally read. I enjoyed being immersed in the world of working on a horse farm and the way in which the romance blossomed. I feel the book was strongest in the opening chapters, but slowly things got a bit out of focus.
The overall feel of the book could have been emotional, and some of the other reviews are raving on about is as such, but I feel that the middle of the book disconnected me from the characters too much, and then the emotional turmoil I was meant to feel, just didn't happen. There's sad parts, sure, but they didn't pack the punch I think they were meant to.
Still, the book is a solidly written, the storyline is tried and true, and the characters are complex. It just wasn't spot on for me, hence the lower star rating. Still worth a read if you like horses or long winding plots with a middle-aged protagonist.
A few things I noticed:
7% - supresssing (delete third s)
10% - ...and she (delete she) hope that the world...
51% - ...towelling dressing gown aare(are) anything...
**Note: I was provided an electronic version of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Gifted Thief is an enjoyable urban fantasy read with likable and complex characters. It is, for the most part, well written and the action is peppered throughout to allow for a reasonable reading pace.
Why only three stars then?
Unfortunately, the pacing of the story in the beginning dragged quite a lot. The content was interesting, and while most of the detail helped form the rest of the book, it felt stilted and cumbersome, rather than lithe and agile like the rest of the book.
The characters were mostly really well done. Some of the extreme stereotypes were a little annoying, but they worked in most instances.
Where things got really interesting was once Integrity delved back into the Sidhe world. I've read a number of Sidhe related books and I'd have to say this one was one of the best for creating a great deal of complexity in their belief and power dynamics. I also quite enjoyed the clan versus clan-less theme that ran throughout. It added another dimension to the story that I'm sure will come into play later in the series.
I will probably read book 2, I am keen to see how things progress, but I won't rush into it.
A couple of things I noticed:
78% - ...now it stood as docile than (delete than, insert as) Barbie.
87% - ...The only (one) who thinks you're...
**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through the Awesome Indies Reviewer program.**
Stitch is the opening book for the Stitch Trilogy. It begins along the same lines as many young adult dystopian type of books: the parents get removed from the picture (as painfully as possible), the protagonist spirals into severe depression (the blackest you've ever seen), and gets placed in a new town/school/planet to deal with their loss and try and move on.
Samantha does a good job of adhering to those tropes. But, then she does something magical. She breaks the mold and doesn't have the protagonist fall instantly in love, she doesn't make the supporting characters weak and useless... No, she slowly reveals an insidious plot and backstory that I was so not expecting.
One part ghost story, one part young adult, one part dystopian, one part mystery and historical, and one part sci-fi. This story delivers on variety. And, it melds well for the most part.
Alessa (who I kept calling Alissa in my head) is a reasonably level-headed character. Things go crazy and she tries to deal with them rationally, so that worked.
Where things fell down for me was the repetition of Alessa's history and emotional growth, I recall it being info-dumped three times in the last half of the book. That's probably twice too many times.
It was an engaging and well written story and I will be getting the second book in the series so I can answer some of those unanswered questions.
**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book as part of the compilation What Tomorrow May Bring in exchange for an honest review**
The Beholder is a tightly packed and well written fantasy story. It's quite youthful in its tone, but its content is too adult for the Young Adult genre.
I liked the male protagonist, Jason. Especially his mental battle and emotional and personal growth. Though the Insta-love bothered me a bit.
Emily is an interesting character, but I am not sure what to think of her. She seemed a little too good to be true to start, the at the end... Well I just don't know what to think.
The puzzles that still plague Jason at the end of the book were, rather annoyingly, what I wanted to know about, so I felt a little miffed about that too.
I can overlook it though, because the second Beholder book is available already.
I liked Ivan's writing, I found that with his other book too, but I don't know if I'd call this a thriller.
I noticed a couple of things:
5% - consistency issue: Jason arrived at the office in the morning for the meeting as he walked in, then worries about recounting the afternoon's events with his boss.
60% - ...saw himself as (a) character with a...
**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review**