$25 Amazon Gift Card Giveway

Go directly to the Giveaway now: http://tinyurl.com/mbgxdwk

Advertisements

Gargoyle Knight by William Massa

Star Rating

starstarhalfstar

I found this book on the Fantasy and Sci-fi Rocks My World Facebook page. The cover looked awesome. The premise sounded like a story I would love. I so wanted to love this book. I was so excited to start reading it.

I expect my novels to be at least 350 pages. I prefer more. I am usually annoyed if the novel is only 300 pages. Imagine my surprise when “The End” arrived at page 214. I felt like I only got half a book—OK, maybe two-thirds of a book.

I had a really hard time reading this book. It took me almost two weeks. I usually devour a good book of 400+ pages in a couple nights. If they are really good, I give up sleep to read them. This one never kept me up reading it.

The writing didn’t work for me. William Massa chose to tell this story using the omniscient perspective. It seemed awkward to jump from one character’s thoughts to the next character’s thoughts.

A good rewrite is needed, not to change the story (well, maybe to add substance to the book’s awkward shortness) but to tell the exact same story with different sentences. Most the sentences seemed awkward. Many of them must could have been better sentences. He just couldn’t figure out how to make me as the reader feel the character’s emotions. Let me give you an example:

Her fear stood in sharp contrast to the ecstasy flickering over Cael’s gargoyle features.

This sentence is a telling sentence. Rhianna feels fear. Cael feels ecstacy. Those feeling contast. However, because he used the verb “stood” it seems like an active sentence, but it really isn’t. Stood is really just an alternate for the verb “was” in this sentence. In J. Abram Barneck’s article, Painting away passive voice, he explains that replacing the passive voice verb with an active voice verb is the first step, but that first step is not enough. Unfortunately, in this book, it seems the first step was as far as the author got in improving his passive voice sentences.

Overall, the book is probably worth the $2.99 it cost, especially if you like Gargoyles, which I do.

Book Details

Gargoyle Knight by William Massa self-published under Critical Mass Publishing on April 20, 2014. It is 214 pages

The novel’s premise

Cael and Artan are brothers in medieval Ireland. Artan is the younger brother, but is chosen by their father to inherit the throne due to Cael’s delving into dark magic. Using the power of the evil god Balor, Cael creates gargoyles and destroying the kingdom, killing Artan’s wife and children.

Flash forward to modern New York where Cael and Artan are stone Gargoyle statues. They are awakened when the Eye of Balor, a broken gem, is mended by blood after Rhianna cuts herself on jagged edge. Can Artan and Rhianna stop Cael before bringing on the apocalypse?

Editing

Quality: Below Average
Their were minor editing issues. For the first seventy pages or so, it appeared typo free but the typos increased in the rest of the book. In fact, there is one line that has a random j at the end:

“How’s my dad?”J

There were other typos. Along with the typos there were also some end quotes that were backwards.

Imagination and Uniqueness

The uniqueness is the one shining star in this book. I love Gargoyles and hadn’t yet encountered a Gargoyle urban fantasy. So this was a first.

The overall story was well-imagined but when it came to the fine details, the story was like a Monet painting; lacking the details up close.

Characters

Artan is the good Gargoyle. Cael is the bad Gargoyle. Rhianna is the daughter of an archaeological and finish her masters thesis in archaeology herself. There were other minor characters, but the book was too short to really get to know any character other than Artan and Rhianna.

Magic System (fantasy)

The magic was minimal and used by Cael. It seemed to be an evil gift from the dark god Balor. There was no “good” magic. The magic seemed to be mostly used to create Gargoyles and prepare for a ritual to release Balor into this world.

eBook Quality

Quality: Average
The book has an amazingly well-done cover. I loved the cover.

The inline table of contents was noticeably absent, but that doesn’t matter much in eBooks as there is a table of contents in all eBooks when you click Go To…

There were some issues here and there. Inconsistent use of the ellipsis. Unnecessary double spaces between paragraphs. End quotes that actually incorrectly beginning quotes.

Parental Guide

Profanity: No swearing at all that I recall. While there is no swearing in the Gargoyle Knight, there is an F-word at the back of this book in the teaser to his other novel Silicon Man.
Sexuality: Minimal to none.
Violence: The battles have violence. There is red blood and black gargoyle blood. And a head is cut off.

About the Author

William has lived in New York, Florida, Europe and now resides in Venice Beach surrounded by skaters and surfers.

He is the writer of FEAR THE LIGHT, GARGOYLE KNIGHT and SILICON MAN.

Forsaken by R. J. Craddock

Star Rating

starstarstar

Forsaken earned 3 stars from us. The best part about this book is Gwen. This book might have some fantasy elements, but this book is really a character book and Gwen is the character. I liked Gwen, and so I liked this book. I enjoyed moving through the real world with Gwen. I also enjoyed the hints of fantasy the author provided.

There were a few times when I started to get bored, but that is when Gwen’s life would change and I’d be pulled right back in. The author did a descent job keeping the story moving.

Book Details

Forsaken by R. J. Craddock is a young adult novel published by Transcendent Books in 2013. The second edition has been published.

The novel’s premise

The novel is really the story of a little girl who just appears in the snow and there are no footsteps behind her. She is an orphan. She has premonitions and is quicker and stronger than other little girls. And we are going to experience her life. This is her story.

Editing

Quality: Below Average

This book is self-published. Like many new independent authors, the cost of high quality editing is too high and non-professional editors were used. However, forgoing a professional editor leads to lingering editing issues. I highlighted a good number of them. The good news is that I was only minorly distracted by them. I read the 2nd edition. The editing issues really cost this book. It would probably have been 3.5 or 4 stars had there not been so many typos.

Imagination and Uniqueness

The imagination is bigger than the book. Her prologue and her Forsaken (Book 1), while both are quite imaginative, don’t seem to be connected . . . yet. In fact, I feel like we are being held back from Craddock’s full imagination and we need to get a better understanding of this prologue in Book 2.

I felt a real life movement to this book, which was quite enjoyable for me. Sure Gwen and Raven are different, but the majority of the book is about how they deal with real world issues. This made the story easy for all readers to identify with.

Also, a content edit could be used to crisp up this book. I think there are small places throughout that could be condensed and help this book move a little quicker. But then again, maybe those are necessary for us to really connect with Gwen.

Characters

Gwen is the character that matters. This is all about her. Sure Raven is somewhat there, and she interacts with many other characters throughout her life, but this is Gwen’s story. Her character is deep and you fall for her quite easily. You must like Gwen to like this book.

This book covers multiple years and at the start of the book, Gwen is described as quite young. Other than the first hospital scene, Gwen acts closer to eleven or twelve almost the entire book, even when she is six to ten.

Magic System (fantasy) / Real Science (Science Fiction)

Gwen are Raven are both different. I am pretty sure Gwen is one of “the Children of Cain,” while Raven turns out to be a werewolf. Gwen can use magic, and encounters a few other witches who attack her for reasons Gwen doesn’t understand. She is more powerful than them, though, but doesn’t know fully comprehend her magic yet.

We don’t get a complete sense of the magic world in book 1. But we feel a desire to read more and Craddock must deliver this in Book 2.

eBook Quality

Quality: High

The eBook quality is now, as of posting this article, quite adequate. We actually helped R. J. Craddock improve the quality of her eBook. It is difficult to make a high quality eBook and this is a struggle for many new self-published authors. A high quality and smooth flowing eBook should make her story much easier read. There should be few formatting issues to distract you from your reading.

About the Author

R. J. CRADDOCK Born Ruth Jerraisetti Harris in Oka Tamuning, Guam, Ruth is the youngest of eight children. As a young child she began telling stories, developing unique characters, and conjuring fantastical worlds in her mind. As she grew older, a thirst for reading overcame her and she devoured all kinds of books, finding kindred spirits in classic novelists such as Dickens, Bronte, and Fitzgerald. She started writing her first novel at age eleven. After high school she attended the Art Institute of Phoenix to pursue her other great passion: Art. Ruth now lives with her husband and three sons in Springville, Utah.

Garon, Alaina, and the Dragon Arkhas

The “A Prince, A Princess, & a Dragon” story series has begun. They sound like perfect stories for young kids.

J. Abram Barneck

A Prince, A Princess, and a Dragon

Story 1
Note: 1st draft and unedited!

In a different time and a place that has long since been forgotten, there was a Prince, there was a Princess,  and There Was A DRAGON! Who flew high in the sky with wings so wide the each one could shade a large cottage. The dawning sun cracked over the mountains behind him. The mountains that held his cave. And Arkhas the dragon flew scouting for food and perhaps something to entertain him. He soared much further than usual, toward the marked lands. His dark red scaled were easy to see, except when flying, because his light blue underbelly blended with the sky, hiding him from foreign eyes.

He looked down on a line, a road really, that joined two kingdoms. To his surprise, he saw a pair of horses and decided they would make a fine…

View original post 1,107 more words

Dissension by Adrienne Monson

Tags

,

Star Rating

starstarstar

I am going to start out by saying, you should read this book. The second half is worth it. But I gotta be honest. I am not sure how this book is getting three stars from me. At about chapter 8, I was ready to throw this book out. Confusing passive voice littered the first half of the book. The writing was a nightmare and not in a good vampire novel way. Then Chapter 8 arrived and it was basically a prologue dropped into the middle of the novel, telling a story we basically had figured out anyway. And chapter 7 included the first half of the prologue but seen as a story told by Leisha to Samantha. I gleamed about one paragraph of needed detail from that entire back story. At this point, the book was barely holding on to a single star.

But I need two things to like a book. First, it has to be good enough to keep me up at night and second I have to want to read the second book. At about chapter 12, I was certain the answer to both would be no. But then I read the second half, in one late night. I couldn’t put it down. I am pretty sure I will read book 2 when it comes out.

This leaves me to wonder if the first half was written a long time ago by a much younger Adrienne Monson, who finally grew up as a writer before finishing this story.

Book Details

Dissension is vampire novel published by Jolly Fish Press in February of 2013. It is clean enough to be young adult but has a story line targeted to both adults and young adults.

The novel’s premise

Samantha, a sixteen year old girl, moves in with her father after her mother dies. After a premonition, Samantha discovers her father works for the government in a facility that is torturing other people.

Samantha rescues Leisha from the government facility only to find out that Leisha is a vampire. And from that moment on, Samantha is pulled into the vampire world.

Editing

Quality: Below Average

The number one issue this novel had was passive voice and mostly in the first half. The editors should have highlighted these lines and Adrienne should have written much better sentences. For example, in one scene Leisha is shot in the shoulder and then this was the following line: “She hissed at the pain and was immediately up in the air.” So this sentence is starts out active, “hissed”, and but ends up passive with “was immediately up in the air.” Why is she in the air? Did the bullet knock her in the air? Or did she jump? After re-reading, I feel like the author meant she jumped. But at this point I was pulled out of the story.

Ambiguous sentences also riddled the first half of the novel. This is probably a symptom of the passive voice. For example, Leisha is in desperate need to escape and there is a line: “Leisha didn’t waste any time killing them.” This sentence is very ambiguous. I assumed it meant she wasn’t going to take the time to kill them because escaping was more important. I was wrong. That line meant that Leisha killed them quickly. There was another ambiguous sentence when she “took no time” to rush at two men.

I am pretty sure that “realer” isn’t a word and should be “more real” instead. No it didn’t appear to be used as slang.

There was a missing space and comma issues.

I could go on. I had 30+ issues highlighted, mostly passive voice or eBook errors and other editing issues. Almost all of them are in the first half of the book.

More than the author, Jolly Fish Press should really take responsibility for this editing mess. If they had would have sent the passive voice and ambiguous sentences back to the writer, her story might be closer to 4 stars.

Imagination and Uniqueness

OK, so this an area where Adrienne excelled. Her imagination was top notch. This is the only reason I kept reading the book after the issues in the first half.

The history was well envisioned. The government facility and Samantha’s rescue of Leisha was done in rather simple but believable way.

The world of the vampires felt dark and dirty and evil, just like it should. It is amazing that this book somehow stayed PG for me. OK, maybe there was enough violence to make it PG-13 but even the violence wasn’t described in detail, allowing our imaginations to do the work.

Characters

There are two main characters and mostly the point of view is theirs.

Leisha is a two thousand year old vampire. Samantha is a sixteen year old girl. Their lives become intertwined and we follow these two characters throughout the story.

When both the characters were together, the point of view was not always done clearly. Sometimes it was hard to know if we were reading Leisha or Samantha’s thoughts. The POV character was easy to figure out, but needing to stop and figure it out pulled me out of the story each time I needed to do so.

The main villain Ptah, is described as an extremely evil chaos demon which entered a human creating the first vampire. However, when we see him, he seems to not be so much evil as he seems quite and calm. He is desperate for Leisha to embrace her vampire nature and join him. I kept being told he was evil, but I never really saw do much evil. I think what Victor and Annette did in her premonition at the end was far more evil than anything we ever see Ptah do.

Supernatural Powers

In this book, Samantha sees visions of the future. The vampires are fast and heal rapidly. The immortals are strong and heal even more rapidly. Vampires also have other small gifts. Leisha can read minds. Nick can lure people to him. Annette can invade a mind.

I really think the immortals needed more explanation. Other than long life and healing, what do they have?

eBook Quality

Quality: Average

This book seemed to be formatted tightly. The margins are smaller the most eBooks and the space between sentences was smaller. This was both good and bad. The tightness gave me a slightly more book-like read. However, the margins had problems when coupled with italics. Certain letters, like F, were cut off on the right side.

The ellipsis were done incorrectly. They should have been done with non-breaking spaces.

These little things pulled me from the story.

About the Author

Adrienne Monson lives in American Fork, Utah. She is a wife and mother of two children.

Here is a quote from her Amazon author page:

I love Zumba, kickboxing, and weightlifting. I also love yummy foods, so I don’t look like a workout guru.

I met her at the Life the Universe & Everything writers conference. I probably wouldn’t have read her book otherwise. From our short meeting, I would say she is a good combination of serious and fun.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Tags

,

Star Rating

starstarstarstar

A lot of people are giving this book low stars. I gave this 4 stars because . . . well, Veronica Roth must have iron writers armor and a keyboard of steel. She wrote with power and wrote the story exactly how it should of ended. I know a lot of people complain about the ending, but sometimes, well-written and real life endings are extremely hard for some readers.

Book Details

Allegiant by Veronic Roth was published by Katherine Tegen Books in October 2013. It had 545 pages.

The novel’s premise

Tris and Tobias leave Chicago, everything they have ever known, and see the surrounding world only to find out the people outside their windy city are not quite as oblivious of Chicago as they were led to believe.

Point of View

Quality: Needs Improvement

So in this third book, Veronica switches points of view between Tris and Tobias. This was not executed well. The only difference between the points of view was that under each chapter heading, the point of view character was listed: Tris or Tobias.

This POV switching didn’t work well for me. After two books of exclusively Tris’s point of view, Veronica needed to write in some obvious tag at the start of each Tobias chapter. Multiple times I was pages into the chapter before I realized the point of view was Tobias’s.

Also, I didn’t get the feel that Tobias had his own personality. In writing his chapters, Veronica really needed to give him his own voice. It seemed like we were getting Tobias’s point of view from Tris’s voice. To make matter’s worse, Tobias’s voice wasn’t exactly a man’s voice.

Editing

Quality: Standard

I highlighted a single comma overuse issue.

However the content editor should have helped with the point of view issues.

Imagination and Uniqueness

The imagination seemed quite limited. Veronica let us out of Chicago but she didn’t seem to be able to show us the world very well. We got to see a single government facility and a single fringe neighborhood.

There were a lot of ways the outside world could have gone. Being stuck in a government facility the whole book, except for Tris’s single trip to the fringe, which while good, was not enough on its own.

Characters

This is the third book, so by now we are all familiar with Beatrice Prior (Tris) and Tobias Eaton (Four), and their budding romance. Though the relationship wasn’t as awesome as it could have been after last been when it seemed so stressed. There relationship was once again stressed.

The addition of a few characters from outside helped this book along. However, Tris and Tobias remained the focus.

There were a lot of side characters and that made it hard to focus on any particular side plot and this story really needed some better side plots.

eBook Quality

Quality: High

Very high quality eBook and extremely easy to read.

About the Author

Veronica Roth is from Chicago, in fact, she and her husband still live there.

While a student, she often chose to work on the story that would become Divergent instead of doing her homework.

I am going suggest that you do your homework first and stay in school.

Apart from writing and reading, I like to cook.

— Quotes form Harper Collins web site

After this series we know that Veronica has no qualms about killing characters and we love to hate her for it.

Acquisitions by Christine Haggerty

Tags

,

Star Rating

starstarstarstarhalfstar

I really liked Acquisitions, especially the world and the characters. It earned all 4-1/2 stars. I almost got bored reading the scene on the train, but then the book moved on just in time. Acquisitions kept me up a little bit, making me give up sleep to read it (but not all night). Haggerty didn’t hold back in her story. The characters and the world are believable, and yes, there are actually characters that die.

Book Details

Acquisitions by Christine Haggerty is a 380 page dystopian novel published by Fox Hollow Publications in December of 2013. This is book 1 of a series called The Plague Legacy.

The novel’s premise

An apocalyptic disease has brought the world to its knees. Cameron Landry becomes and acquisition, chosen to go to Salvation. Unfortunately, Devon, who looks normal but is a mutant who despises Cameron, is going too.

Editing

Quality: Average

I found a single editing issue: a missing space between two words. Other than that, the editing was perfect.

Imagination and Uniqueness

This world is well-imagined. I enjoyed the setting, which starts out somewhere in the remains of the western United States. The plague is very well-described through Cameron’s memories. He lost both his parents and his brother to the plague.

Characters

I really liked Cameron Landry (Cam) at the start of the book. He is a likeable character who sticks up to bullies such as Devon.

There is a hint of romance brewing between Cam and Devon’s Sister, Tara.

The mutants are done well but simply. Her imagination is so good yet so easy. The plague created the mutants, but other than a single mark, faster healing, and a little more strength, mutants are otherwise normal.

The adults are few and far between, but they are the leaders. They are pretty enigmatic, and there is plenty of mystery to the adults. Some have been to Salvation and there is an air of awe about those who have gone there and come back.

eBook Quality

Quality: Average

The eBook had a single issue with formatting in the first chapter. I actually worked with Fox Hollow Publishing to help them fix it, so hopefully, you won’t see that issue. Other than that, it was pretty good quality. It lacked a few extra features that come with high quality eBooks but overall, the eBook has nothing to distract you.

About the Author

Christine Nielson Haggerty grew up in rural Utah with three brothers, a sister, several chickens, a goat, and an outhouse. She always loved the escape of science fiction and fantasy and the art of writing, and her passion is to craft stories of strength and survival.

Christine taught high school language arts for several years, encouraging perfection of the language in her young adult students. Now she appreciates her background in classic literature and history as she draws on the past to write about the present and the future.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Tags

, ,

Star Rating

starstarstarstar

I gave it 3-1/2 stars (rounded up to 4 on Amazon). I thought the book was good but when I was finished, nothing in the book left me hoping for book 2.

The world was very cool. David, the main character, was well-written. I liked Megan and Prof. I enjoyed the story line. I even enjoyed the plot (even though it’s David vs. Goliath theme was a repeat of the Mistborn theme).

Book Details

Steelheart by Brand Sanderson comes in at just under 400 pages and was published by Delacorte Press in September 2013 and distributed by Random House.

The novel’s premise

In a future world, Chicago is run by Steelheart, an Epic. (Epic equals ‘superhero’ minus the ‘hero.’) The world is in a post-apocalyptic turmoil. David’s father is killed by Steelheart in a bank. Steelheart supposedly cannot die, but David has seen Steelheart bleed. David will avenge his father.

Editing

Quality: High

I didn’t find any editing errors in this novel. Perhaps a content edit to suggest increasing the connection between David and Megan would have helped him pull off the ending and helped me get emotionally involved.

Imagination and Uniqueness

The imagination is phenomenal. This world just freaking cool. His imagination is really what made this novel fun for me. Usually, I love the characters, but this story is about the world. The settings. The imagined powers of the Epics. I almost want to go add another star to the rating just thinking about the awesome imagination in this book.

Characters

David is the main character. Megan is another primary character. Together, they are the heart of the book.

Unfortunately, I never got involved emotionally in this book. I think that is because the David/Megan romance was so slow developing. It seemed like Sanderson wanted there to be this strong connection between David and Megan so that the reader’s heart would wrench right along with David’s heart when the connection broke. But I think the romance was barely there and I just felt mildly disappointed when Megan died. This fell short for me.

In the end, David is still an expendable young man and nobody would care if he died. Sure, the team would be sad, but they would get over him quick.

The team of side characters (the characters not mentioned above) were a little vague for me and I never really got a visual for them or reached a point where I felt I knew each member of the team well.

It was definitely a David vs. Goliath story. I wonder if that is why he named the MC David?

Magic System

The magic system, or in this case the superpower system, seemed to take an easy road. I don’t remember the exact wording but a couple of times he made comments like: “Everything defies the laws of physics and can’t be explained.” To me that was taking an easy road. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the powers, but I wanted at least and attempt at scientific explanations.

eBook Quality

Quality: Average

Very few issues but there were a few. Some features that add quality were missing. The start of each chapter had one word in all caps. Which when that one word was simply something like I, it didn’t really stand out as a chapter beginning.

The ellipses were done wrong. No breaking space after them, made for some awkward spacing issues.

About the Author

Brandon Sanderson was born in December 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He served a two year mission in Seoul, Korea for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After which, he returned to BYU and changed his major from Biochemistry to Creative Writing. His pWith his amazing success as a writer, I am sure his parents have forgiven him by now.

While at BYU, Brandon volunteered for Leading Edge Magazine, and in his senior year, he was Editor and Chief. His time there helped hone his writing skills.

Read more about him on his web site at: http://brandonsanderson.com/about-brandon/