Review: The Transformation of Adam Higgins by Marvin Amazon

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Publisher: Corinthians Publishing
Publishing Date: November 2013
ISBN: 9780957298590
Genre: fantasy
Rating: 2.0/5.0

Publisher Description: We never choose our destiny. It chooses us.”

It’s been five thousand years since the gods withdrew from the galaxy, leaving the men of each planet to rule themselves. For millennia, the worlds lived in relative harmony. But once again the order has been shaken.
On Earth, a young man is ripped across a universe he didn’t know existed and inextricably tied to an ancient conflict that he can’t begin to understand.
Who are the true heroes? Who is the Chosen One?

Review: The cover art looks like a psychodelic octopus took a big rainbow shit. And what is that ethereal kid doing in there? Looks like a scissor cutout from a coloring book. Is that Adam? Fug me, this is right up there with the worst of the worst.

This had a wildly jumbled story-line that still doesn’t quite make sense. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and a ton of questions that should have been answered, but were not. I think the author intentionally leaves out information as he is building a series that will culminate, hopefully, in the third installment. Like it or hate it? Not a big fan of being vague with regard to the storyline. I think it should be spelled out for the reader if the novel is not entertaining a mystery/thriller genre. In subsequent novels, you can build on what is known by the insertion of new events. I think that captivates the reader and engages them more. Gives the reader a sense of control. I just felt this sense of vagueness when reading it that I attribute to the lack of substantive information.

The story-line was awesome as were the characters, except for Adam’s twin sister whom comes off bratty, bitchy, whiney and ineffective at instituting any of her ideas. A real Debbie-Downer. The story flips back and forth between Earth and Tustodes/Corin with alacrity. It helps develop the eventual culmination of the novels intent while providing some insight into what the next installment will be.

I have a couple of reasons for not scoring this novel very high. If you have any of my other reviews, you may know that I abhor the overuse of nouns and verbs when it exceeds what is considered subjectively rational. In this case, as in others, the literary virus of the day was either “Scowl”, “Scowled”, “Scowling”, “Growled” or “Growling”. Fug me. I counted, when cogent, in excess of 50x times that these devices or crutches were used during the course of the novel. Gonna say it again. It takes a little more effort to craft a novel that avoids the overuse of simplistic terms.

The other hitch in this novel was this weird jump from Earth normal to Tustodes/Corin hyper-Camelot speak. Here you have people talking like they came straight out of a King Arthur movie….”You have developed into one of the greatest warriors this planet has ever seen…tread carefully…..do not trust anyone…..” and “they are pure and with so much compassion…..My loyalties lie with you and our great planet before anyone else……. Weird shjt. How is it that you have beings that can traverse the Galaxy, yet reside and behave as a hyper-romanticized version of an Earth story. Heck, its not even a myth. Camelot is based on a story by 15th century writer Thomas Malory. But that’s not the good part. There is King Oncelot (Lancelot?), King Solamon (Solomon?), Corinthus (Corinth?), Copelcius (Copernicus?), Queen Mariam (Marian?) that makes up this melange’ of converted Greco/Arthurian/Robin Hoodian/Princess Bride naming nightmares. Then we have Prince Ramon whom runs around yapping like Inigo Montoya “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!”.

There were quite a few grammatical and spelling errors in this e-copy. Not sure if the editors fell down or something was lost during conversion. I think its the former, as the errors were duplicates within the sentence structure. This could have been a really good novel if it had had a firmer editing hand. Trim the story-line down so it is more believable, rather than this Arthurian jump into LA-LA Land. Curb the over-use of certain verbs and nouns, endless descriptive dialogue and you have a really great read.

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Review: Red Cells by Jeffrey Thomas

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Publisher: DarkFuse
Publishing Date: march 2014
ISBN: 9781940544250
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 3.5/4.0

Publisher Description: Private detective and mutant shapeshifter Jeremy Stake (hero of the novels Deadstock and Blue War) has fallen on hard times in the far-future city of Punktown. When he is offered an opportunity to masquerade as another man to do his prison sentence for him, Stake agrees, but this is a new type of penitentiary—existing in its own pocket universe.

In this isolated prison, a series of gruesome murders have occurred, and the inmates soon force Stake to investigate. Can Stake catch a killer that might not even be human, without becoming just another victim?

Review: The cover art is lame in that it evokes images of the mundane with some red color overlay.

Stake, a shapeshifter, gets busted in prison, while trying to emulate a client. While there, prisoners inexplicably start disappearing leaving only splattered blood behind. The shifters in prison want Stake to find out why the killings are occurring.

This was a good short read. Hard to really rate novella’s. The story-line, while swift and engaging, leaves little left for plot and character development. The author does a good job developing characters within the confines (get it?) of the novel. I enjoyed the end, where the “entities” are stealing android prostitutes or rather hijacking them in order to learn more about the human species. I thought the novel could have been made whole by continuing this story-line. Hints of Blade Runner and all that. As it is, I feel that this gets a good score for incompleteness.

Review: The 24th Room by Christy Ellynby

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Publisher: Cameron
Publishing Date: January 2014
ISBN: 9781783061327
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 1.5/5.0

Publisher Description: “The Room has one rule which you must never break or you will lose the privilege of the 24th Room – when it is time to go back, you must always return the way you came, never attempt to go down any of the other stairways…” Jaxon and Shay Vale are 16-year-old twins, one of whom, due to their heritage, will be the future Lord or Lady of Vale Manor in England. In their eyes, this is a burden – and not one they are the slightest bit interested in. An old lady from a store in the village tells them about the manor’s secret: the 24th Room, which sits in the 5th Dimension, can be reached from a stairway that will take them on a journey through the amazing night sky. This room is like no other, and holds many surprises for Jaxon and Shay. The legend of the room states, once they turn 18, that their memory of the 24th Room will disappear… But will it?

Review: WILL IT!!!???? I DON”T KNOW???? CAN IT???!!! MAYBE!!??? (insert SPOOKY VISION here). Since I always or most always start the review with the cover art, I will say that it is accurate as depicted in the novel. Although accurate, not appropriate for cover art as it encompasses boring to the nth degree.

So basically you have two teenage twins that sound like argumentative spoiled brats with mouthy negative attitudes moving to Vale Manor. See, the Vales established the 24th room that is in the 5th dimension (not the Band) and the new lords (two brats) are the inheritors. So Jaxon and Shay are twin asshats that are essentially enabled 10 year olds until the author says they are on the cusp of 17. Wow, didn’t see that coming. I think that was the biggest surprise of the novel, and unintended. There is this consistent liberal bludgeoning by the author to the effect “This magical room was created for all cultures and colors to come together in love and sharing so that we can begin to change the world. Most if not all the teensters here become world leaders to teach and provide……..” blah blah blah. If they are anything like Jaxon and Shay Asshat-Vale, run screaming for your lives.

What was really weird about this novella is 16 year old twins that talk and behave like 10 year olds. Calling each other dufus’, or having one brain cell, wearing mickey mouse pajamas, sticking fingers down throats to emulate disgust and other pre-pubescent antics that leave you scratchin’ your head. Everyone that is 16 years old behaves like they have gradeschool crushes. Shay behaves like spoiled vindicative clown-monkey when seemingly insulted. Yet is lauded in the end for her bravery and “unique personality”. Hey, I know, lets enable asshats to be jerks then hold them up on a pedastel. It is called creating sociopaths for the next generation. I think the author may have a deluded idea about what “teensters” are really about. Kind of the ol’ “veil not lifted from eyes” dealio. Maybe they just grow teenagers differently in New Zealand.

Dialogue is very fast paced, so much so that it trips over each other in a rush to finish. Besides the stilted dialogue, the scene development was average in that you were left to your own imagination in order to complete it. There are all these wonderful creatures in the garden but scant descriptions about what they really look like and where they come from. They are just “there” . There are no descriptions about what the Warlords look like, other than the main bad lord being really tall, dressed in black with a crystal in his palm.

The battle scenes had no descriptive elements and the main characters had the emotive capacity of a boll weevil. I can see this being read to a group of 8-10 year olds with some minor editing.

Review: The Stone Golem by Jeanette Battista

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Publisher: Jeanette Battista
Publishing Date: January 2014
ISBN: 9781310802188
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2.0/5.0

Publisher Description: Amaranth, Dham, and Cat have managed to escape the wreckage of London’s Resistance. Now they on their way to Vatican City, desperate to find out the location of the Demon’s Gate and discover a way to free Amaranth and Trick from the spell that binds them. With Raulston–the Grand Inquisitor–dogging their footsteps, will they find the answers they seek or fail in their quest?

Review: The cover art is pretty weak. Chick with swords in a hall of fire. Hmmm.

I had a real hard time getting through this novel. Extremely dialogue heavy (internal & external) without any movement to support it. Additionally there were so many finite scene descriptions that it detracted from the story line. A lot of the emotive dialogue exchanges were between Amaranth and Cat. This entailed much bitch fighting over this or that, but mainly over some dude. Fug.

There was just too much wasted effort on pages of dialogue prior to the ensuing action. I will say that this Indie author can write. A strong does of editing is required here in hopes that  Ms. expert sword fighter/kick boxer hones her inherent talent.

Review: Shattered Veil by Tracy Banghart

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Publisher: Tracy Banghart
Publishing Date: February 2014
ISBN: 9780989037327
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 3.8/5.0

Publisher Description: War has come to Atalanta, infecting its quiet villages and lush woodlands, igniting whispered worries in its glittering capital. All across the dominion, young men are being Selected for Military and sent to the front lines…and eighteen-year-old Aris Haan’s childhood sweetheart is one of them.

Review: Although the cover-art is fairly inventive, it really has nothing to do with the novel. Fairly misleading in its entirety. There is even a silhouette of a world war II plane in one of the crystals? The novel evokes images of flying machines that are quite a bit sleeker and perhaps smaller in design and wouldn’t have exhaust contrails as they are solar powered. And why is there a bracelet on the cover? The title doesn’t do it for me either. Subjectively there is no draw for any reader to pick this up when you have bad cover art coupled with an ambiguous title. The author might have titled the novel, “The Diatous War, volume 1: The Ruslana Gambit” with better result.

Airhead…er…Aris, lives in Lux where she hopes to be promised to the love of her life, Calix. War has reared its ugly head and her Calix is selected to be a mender on the front lines. They both promise eternal love and a future together and off he goes. Aris loves to fly, and one day is mobbed by a military flyer, which she easily gets the better of. From there we get this quirky set of circumstances that leads up to her training to be a military flyer while in the guise of a man. Her impetus for doing so is to find her love, Calix. The “Veil” is holographic mapping hardware that changes your outward appearance. See, there are no women allowed in the military but a “secret agency” knows that there are highly qualified and capable women that could greatly aid in the war effort.

I really liked this novel, mainly due to the creative story-line. The author did a great job in developing Aris. She basically transforms Aris from a love-struck airhead into someone with purpose, conviction, loyalty and bravery. The author does not sacrifice Aris’ humanity and turn her into some kind of hard edged commando like so many author’s do these days. How many books have I read where the female character is either so “Speshul” (thanks Khanh) and can’t find her ass with both hands without some big hunky man to help her, or a killing machine without remorse whom has the morals of a grapefruit. Aris is a wonderfully conflicted character who maintains her sense of self while implementing her chosen way of life.

The parallel story of the Kidnapped Ward of Ruslana, Galena is lengthier than it needs to be, but worthwhile just the same. The author creates this tapestry of malaise whereby you get the sense that something is wrong, but are not quite sure of its origins. Some readers might question Aris’ overall intent, but I tack that up to her romanticized notion of life as a young girl. I don’t know that if I was in a war that I would be thinking or dreaming about some hottie officer while recovering from a plane crash. Those instances, while not real appropriate to the scenario, may have been a good opportunity for the author to develop Aris’ harder side.

I couldn’t put this one down. It was a really good read. I hope the author gets some better editing input into character development in some minor areas in order to realize their potential to the reader. Some of the dialogue renders the female military characters almost too susceptible/vulnerable in tight situations. I ‘am chomping at the bit to see where the author takes us next. Will she keep Aris or will it be someone else in another Ward, perhaps some spy that is sympathetic to Atalanta’s plight within Safara??

Trinity Stones by L.G. O’Connor

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Publisher: She Writes Press
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9781938314841
Genre: fantasy
Rating: 1.0/5.0

Publisher Description: Between a hostile work environment and an impossible romantic situation with her longtime friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon, disenchanted New York investment banker Cara Collins has little to smile about on her 27th birthday. But before the day ends, she receives a letter from her long-dead grandmother telling her she has inherited $50 million—a windfall that she must keep secret or risk the lives of those close to her—and suddenly she has a lot more to worry about.

Review: The Cover art looks like two smirky douche bags floating over some spilled jelly beans with crayon drawings thrown in. It is relentlessly bad and will keep you awake if you think on it.

This novel was filled with and endless stream of dialogue . This author must subscribe the Nora Roberts School of Writing (NRSOW), where romance is loosely tied to a jumbled story-line. Our heroine, Cara, whom is an investment banker who went to Georgetown (of course) pines for a love lost years ago but they still have this “psychic” connection. She has not had sex in 5 years since the breakup with Kai, and still has erotic dreams about Kai. Kai, whom went to MIT and has a PhD. (of course) also thinks and dreams about her and feels guilty about it. He is now married with a kid living on the west coast. So how is this bad? There are literally chapters of Cara pining for Kai, or dreaming of Kai, and this “Deep Connection” that they have. Must be a real deep connection when he’s porkin’ somebody else 3,000 miles away. When the author gets around to the action, it is quite good. But then a new character is inserted into her life and we get page after page of dialogue. Not a bad thing, just not my cup o’joe. Everyone she meets or nearly so, she has a sudden “Deep Connection” with. Michael, her messenger (hottie martial arts expert, of course), after only an hour she is already touching foreheads with him, or curled up in his strong arms and talking about this “Deep Connection” between them. Constantina, one of the Angelora, comes by to train her in the ways of a Soul Seeker, heals her throat etc. then after a short-time in her presence she develops this “Deep Connection” with her. Her Guardian also has this deep connection with her as their “Souls touched”. Cara sounds like an insecure psychic slut.

There exists within these pages a dialogue that is reminiscent of the NRSOW whereby the constant sense of high brow buffoonery resides. Every where she goes she notices the Rafael painting (her favorite, of course), or the chandelier, or a Philipe Patek watch (which costs more than a car!), enjoying her Christian Louboutin shoes, The Hamptons, Prada blah, blah, blah or some such high end item that lends relevance to the story-line somehow. Only it doesn’t. It comes off as being snobby and unrealistic.

So asshat, er…..Cara is now a Soul Seeker being crafted to become who knows what by Constantina (lol). She has a guardian Nephilim named Chamuel (lol) who has the hots for her, only that is taboo-boo as Trinity Guardians are forbidden to engage in romantic conduct. Uh oh, see where this is headed? See Chamuel not only has a forbidden boner for Cara but also happens to own a high end Chefs kitchen and studied in Paris during the nineties (of course). Yada, yada, and we see that Cara just now realizes that Simon (Chamuel-lol) is her guardian and forbidden to her. Yet without Simon/Cham her heart and soul would never be complete. So several pages later of self-recrimination on both sides and we are ready for the grande finale. So guess what? (takes deep breath) One of the problems that mortals have in being with Nephilim is that they live so long and mortals don’t. But you see, Kai was working on a vaccine that he injected into her as she lay injured. Now Cham/Simon is on the operating table and she will do anything for him, including giving up her own life. So now it just so happens that Constantina is the mother of Cham/Simon (in another life) and that the newfound properties of this vaccine give her extended life like the Nephilim, so now she can be with him, like, forever. AAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH! Shoot me now, Deus ex.

Towards the end we get the sex scene where Simon “moves down to the slice of Heaven that lay between her open legs”. Only its not a scene but more endless pages of sex/dialogue. Throughout the novel, Cara is always wandering around in disbelief as life happens around her and is in this constant state of “wounded bunny-please take care of me”. You know why? Because she is so “Speshul”. Not on my recommended list of reads, for sure.

Review: Dream Caster by N.Nadarajah

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Publisher:Bookus
Publishing Date: Oct 2013
ISBN: 9780991709403
Genre: fantasy
Rating: 2.0/5.0

Publisher Description: Haunted by memories of his massacred settlement, sixteen-year-old Weaver seeks cover in a hidden refuge among the remains of a ruined city. In the midst of building a new life, Weaver discovers that he has the amazing power to cast his dreams into reality. Convinced it’s just an anomaly, Weaver ignores it. That is until he learns of a mysterious man who shares the ability, and uses his power to bring nightmares into existence and wage war on the world. The peaceful life Weaver hoped for begins to unravel as waves of chaos begin to break loose about him. In a race against time, Weaver must learn to accept his role as a dream caster and master his new power, before his new home is destroyed and humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction.

Review: The cover art is so bad that words almost fail me. It looks like a septuagenarian escaping from the face lift factory. If you had not read the story and knew that the thing on the cover is a dude, you would be hard pressed in choosing the sex.

Our main character, Weaver (Dream Caster, Dream Weaver..get it?) singing softly…”I’ve just closed my eyes again, Climbed aboard the dream weaver train Driver take away my worries of today, And leave tomorrow behind”. Where is Gary Wright when you need him? There is this weird dichotomy that is prevalent throughout the novel. We have an unknown cataclysm that occurred 50-60 years ago, but no one seems to know what it was other than it is called the Cloak War. However, there are clearly people that lived during that time, in the present.

After his village burns down from a Fire Hound attack, Weaver hooks up with some chicky babe who first kicks his ass then takes him to some city of refuge where there is a surviving civilization. He meets some peeps that have no developed personality other than the author’s over use of “He growled” or “She growled”. I think without really keeping count there was around 20 uses of “growled”.
Weaver is an asshat, and wears it proudly. He is at once dumb, one dimensional and incredulous about everything. Its like a little kid breaking into your workshop whom runs around grabbing everything and yelling “WOW, THIS IS SO COOL!!!”. The denying the obvious shtick rears its ugly head in this novel, repeatedly. Weaver pointedly denies everything that passes under his nose and his affinity to it. This constant denial of being the “Caster” wears a little thin when the surrounding evidence is undeniable.

You know, you always want to like a novel prior to reading as we have a little ego and $ invested in the selection of the item. At some point you have to be honest with yourself and claim that you made a bad choice and move on after the self-recriminations and the email to the author demanding your money back. The genre this book falls into is the teenage/YA dystopian melange’. Sounds like an angry baker making sickly sweet confections, doesn’t it? This one got a little long in the tooth as you wait and wait for something to happen. When something does happen the author hammers on it unrelentingly. The story line is pretty good and unique in that regard but the dialogue between the characters is oft times somewhat cursory.

The author almost pulls off a really good read. He has the story-line yet the characters fail to embody anyone you would be interested in. No one character is developed enough to draw you deeper into the story. Conversational exchanges seem stilted and jump around with no focus. Just because a character gives nasty glances or growls at this or that, does not imbue them with a sense of emotive content. The editing was not very good as well. There were a lot of spelling and grammatical errors throughout the novel. Scenes described, failed to transport you into the visualization. You were left with kind of developing your own mental image.

I really wanted to like the novel based on the story-line. The author needs to tighten up some areas and get a focused editor. I am really interested in the next novel of this series if some changes are made.