Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reviews I've Posted

I spent the past couple of days reading instead of writing, and wrote reviews of the books I read. Without further ado, here they are, in the order published. The titles have links to Amazon product pages, and I hope you might interested in them. If you don't have a Kindle, or don't like Amazon, leave a note in the comments, and I'll get you a suitable link (if one exists). You may leave any other comments as well.

by John Hartness

Loved the story! I fell for Cindy and her... talent? training? occupation, I guess. Mr. Hartness developed a much more complex and interesting story than I was expecting. I read the first few hundred words on John's blog way back when, and pestered him every chance I had after that to finish it and get it out. I was so intrigued.

However, while the story is excellent, and the characters I like a lot - so much so that I'm hoping he continues to document Cindy's trials and tribulations - I was disappointed in the mechanics. In the Kindle edition, the editing needs work, enough that it took me out of the story one star's worth, and I hope John can correct it in a new edition. In fairness, in my brief exposure to John's work, this was unexpected.

I still recommend Headshot because of the characters, the multi-threaded story lines, the surprises and the detail. It's an excellent work that deserves somewhat better presentation.

Four Stars

Lunara: Seth and Chloe
by  Wyatt Davenport
I was of two minds about Lunara: Seth and Chloe. Mr. Davenport has created a pretty good opening to his series, I think, now that I've finished it. However, the beginning is so slow (to me) that I almost moved on to the next story on my Kindle to avoid giving it one or no stars.

However, I persevered. Once we got to some action, the story began to work for me. I liked the characters (most of them) and the plot had sufficient twists and turns.

However. There's always a however, isn't there? Stylistically, there are some problems. I don't take stars off for these kinds of things, as others may not agree or be bothered by them. But the dialogue is stilted and takes me out of the story. Davenport declines to use contractions. Partly due to this and partly due to word choice and construction, both the dialogue and the narration seem much more formal than seems appropriate, especially in the more 'tender' scenes.

Other reviewers have pointed failings they believe exist; read them and heed them. Take heart from the good reviews. There were a few homonym confusions, but my biggest complaint on the Kindle formatting end was the lack of a table of contents.

It's an intriguing story and a good beginning to the series, especially if the writing loosens up a little.

Four Stars

Poker Face
by Jess Sturman-Coombs
Poker Face has the ingredients: a strong female protagonist (I'd like to work with Ruby!); well-drawn supporting characters, both helpful and... not-so-helpful; an active and engaging plot; descriptions that made me feel the settings. The ingredients are stirred, blended, smoothed a little, and as a result, Poker Face is a confection, a delight!

With all that, you say, why only four stars? There aren't enough grammar or formatting errors to drop a star. So... I'm American, and while I'm pretty well read in British fiction, and have had several friends and acquaintances who live in England (I know what a kerb is, and an estate, for example), there are British colloquialisms aplenty. Not a surprise, from a British author, and normally I'd overlook it. However, Ms Sturman-Coombs left me in the lurch several times. Having to look in my British dictionary (and not always finding an answer) took me right out of the story, and it is a story I didn't want to be taken out of.

Let me hasten to add that this complaint does not extend to dialogue, where whatever fits the character and the situation works. In narration, however, I'd like one of Ms Sturman-Coombs readers or editors to come from a less British speaking background and perhaps raise the less widely known phrases as possible things to reword.

That aside (and it mayn't apply if you're more widely read than I in contemporary British fiction - or conversation, maybe), this is a wonderful story that I'm happy to recommend to YA readers and adults alike. There's no talking down here: we see realistic, uncomfortable situations, and intelligent, uncontrived (by the author, that is) reactions and solutions. I'm anxiously awaiting the next offering.

Four Stars (Five on Amazon UK, where I expect my issues with British colloquialisms have little weight.)

Sandy Morrison and the Pack of Pussies
by Zoe Whitten
(Think Mrs. Slocum's pussy...)

In Sandy Morrison and the Pack of Pussies, Zoe Whitten has given us an intriguing story about fantastical people... err, beings. Her characters are lively and full blooded (all but one, anyway), her descriptions are excellent and the story has as many twists as... as the Tail of the Dragon (a wonderful 12 mile stretch of US route 129 in North Carolina). Ms Whitten drew from a long list of inspirations to craft a story that opens taking readers one direction; leading us out into the weeds, so to speak, before a sharp turn and a new vista, completely different but still well connected, lies right there!

There are a few typos and grammatical errors, not enough to worry over even if, like me, you're obsessed with them. Ms Whitten asks for comments on the story; here are three: Find a thesaurus and look up "huff." Replace every instance in the story save one with one of the alternatives. Really. At the point in the story it happens, I was so disappointed in Sandy at the water tower. I did get over it and then, of course I remembered, "She does not get eaten by the sharks at this time." Still... And the ultimate fight scene, I thought it went by too quickly. There was a big build-up, then it was over. Might just be me.

Obviously, even the slow beginning hasn't diminished my enjoyment of Sandy Morrison. While sensuality is present (as it must be, given the characters), it isn't ever in your face. Sandy holds her character throughout, and the changes others go through are all believable, making the story enjoyable. The events of the story, while fantastical on their face, all fit into the plot Ms Whitten has woven.

I am comfortable recommending Sandy Morrison and the Pack of Pussies to anyone looking for a stimulating read. Next story, Ms Whitten? 

Five Stars

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