Tag Archive: book review

Apr 27

Book Review: Mirror Thief by Jamie Heppner

Mirror Thief
by
Jamie Heppner

A Review by Melodee Aaron

Before I get to the actual review, there’s something that you, the reader, need to know…

I’ve known Jamie for a number of years now. In that time, I’ve read a number of his works and, in some cases, ripped him a new one over poor editing. I’m happy to say, however, that with each new story from Jamie the issues have become fewer and less obvious. Maybe he really was listening?

Mirror Thief continues that pattern. Are there errors in grammar, syntax, and spelling? Yes, of course…that happens to everyone. Are the errors so bad or numerous that they turn the reading of the story from what should be a pleasure into a tedious chore? No, not even close.

This novella from Jamie is very readable and the problems are fading into the background.

Now, on to the real reason we’re here…

Synopsis:

Mirror Thief tells the story of Dario Fisher, a young man in serious trouble. He just came out of a coma, he has no job, he has no place to live, and he has no idea what to do next. Then Mia, an attractive young nurse caring for him, moves from being in his life professionally to a more personal level. Despite the growing feelings between Dario and Mia, things go from bad to worse…suddenly, they are both unemployed and being threatened with homelessness. But Dario has a trick up his sleeve…

It seems the accident that landed him in the hospital has left him with a strange power to interact with mirrors in more than a reflective way. Dario can actually reach through the mirror into the dark and shadowy world behind the silvery images the rest of us see.

To meet the needs of living in a modern world, Dario, at first on his own and later aided by Mia, turns to theft to get money to survive. After a series of successes in ever increasing heists of cash from various sources, Mia and Dario decide on one final job that will net them enough to retire in comfort…they plan to rob Dario’s estranged parents.

But things go wrong in a terrible manner when the mirror Dario occupies is broken into shards.

Thoughts:

Honestly, I had a little trouble suspending disbelief in the first fifteen or so pages. Dario wakes from a two-week coma and the reaction of the medical staff—Mia included—is basically, “Oh, you’re awake. How about some lunch?” At a different point in the story rather than the very beginning, this sweeping under the rug of realistic reactions would likely have worked, but not as the opening scene. I would like to have seen a more realistic approach here. All that said, Dear Reader, just push through. There are things in those first pages you need to know.

In the three “jobs” Dario and Mia pull off before they decide to hit his folks, two of the people robbed don’t deserve it in my opinion. Dario makes restitution to one of them but not the other. For this reason, I still can’t decide if I love Dario and Mia or hate them. I guess the reality is that it’s a little of both and it varies based on the scene. Overall, I like them more than hate them, and by a good margin.

OK…most of this is the SF author in me talking. I think that Jamie missed a number of great chances for plot twists and sidebars with the physics of mirrors. The alert reader will wonder about the impact of first and second surface mirrors on Dario’s abilities. Also coming to mind is the use of liquid mirrors (stationary or rotating) in the equation. Could Dario travel in four-space by entering a telescope mirror? And then there is the whole idea of FTL velocities through the reflective qualities of a prism.

Perhaps Jamie is saving these things for a sequel…Mirror Thief leaves the option open for that.

Summary:

Overall, I enjoyed Mirror Thief.

As I mentioned, there are a few grammar and usage issues, but not enough to be a real issue, even for a Grammar Nazi like me.

There are a few things that could be changed to make the early story more realistic, but again this is not a major problem as long as the reader can suspend disbelief for a few pages.

I give Mirror Thief 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Mirror Thief is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Mirror-Thief-Jamie-Heppner-ebook/dp/B00FFRD672

Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2015/04/27/book-review-mirror-thief-by-jamie-heppner-3/

Jan 12

Book Review: Dreamtime Sensuality

 

Dreamtime Sensuality
by David Russell

ISBN: 978-1-4874-0010-1

Published by: Devine Destinies
Available at: Amazon

When David first contacted me about reviewing Dreamtime Sensuality, I must admit that I was a little hesitant. I’m trying to think of a nice way to say this, but I’m not sure there is one…

Over the last few years, there has been an endless stream of crap flowing from a myriad of sources like small press, indie, and even large press publishers. We’re talking stories that are poorly written with editing that is even worse, typesetting that would make Gutenberg spin in his grave, and cover art that makes your eyes cross. I have read (or at least tried to read) many such works. I’ve even reviewed a few. To make things totally clear, I was more than a little gun shy that I’d end up trying to say nice things about yet another book that sucks the life out of everyone who looks at it like some kind of literary Medusa.

Frankly, the fact that David is a man working in a female dominated genre made me—perhaps against my better judgement—agree to do a review.

So, here we are…I just finished reading Dreamtime Sensuality. For the third time in the past week.

The four short stories making up the collection are universally delightful. The characters are all likeable and believable, though I can see some Americans finding the characters slightly stiff. Keep in mind the British background. I’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist and voyeur. Perhaps this is why I so easily related to the characters. Or, just as likely, David has created characters that are so real that they are easy to relate to.

Sometimes, when I review a book, I actually try to give away the story. Call it fair warning. With Dreamtime Sensuality, I have no such temptation. I want to paint a picture for you that will encourage you to read this book because I believe that you will enjoy it as much as I have. Let me just say that the stories are a breath of fresh air in a pile of pungent refugee books.

Next, I would be remiss unless I mention what an easy read these stories are. Yes, they are short, taking under thirty minutes to read, but that’s not what I mean by easy. I mean that the editor earned their money. I found three editing errors, and I had to look for one of them. The average reader isn’t going to find that many. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work in technical terms.

If I go on here too much longer, I’ll start spouting the stories out to you, so let me wrap this up here and now…

Dreamtime Sensuality gets a hearty FIVE STARS and a Recommended Read from me!

Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2015/01/12/book-review-dreamtime-sensuality/

Jan 15

Book Review – Wacky Stories for Women (Volume One) by John M. W. Smith

 

This time around I’m reviewing Wacky Stories for Women (Volume One) by John M. W. Smith.

Whacky Stories for Women Volume One
This book is actually a collection of eight short stories and that means I’ll take a different approach for this review…

Below you’ll find a brief review for each of the eight stories and that will be followed by a more detailed rating for the book as a whole.

OK…that might not be the best way to do this, but it’s what you’re going to get. Sue me.

Story One – Too Good to be True

Becky needs some service…oh, on her car. But it seems that maybe Andy might want to service other things.

Right from the start there are two things abundantly clear…first, Andy and his garage are, as the title implies, too good to be true. Second, there is a huge potential for sparks to fly between Becky and Andy as opposed to from her defective exhaust system.

The twist at the end was a delightful surprise, one I didn’t see coming at all.

For this story, I give a rating of 4.5 Stars.

Story Two – Having Everything

Old school chums—of sorts—Molly and Joan meet for the first time in years, and from about the fifth paragraph, I hated Joan with a passion. On the other hand, something about Molly made me like her instantly.

Despite Joan’s condescension, Molly stands her ground. While Joan married money and lives a life that many would envy, Molly is a single mom working for a living, and she likes the life she has.

And the ending twist puts Joan in her place…as she should be placed.

For this story, I give a rating of 4.5 Stars.

Story Three – Chatting Up Cathy

Ah, Martin…a weasel of a salesman. On the other hand, he is like so many men and convinced that he is God’s gift to women.

By the way, guys…if you think that, you’re wrong.

When he meets Cathy at a local club, he tries all the tricks in the book to pick her up and get in her pants. Martin smiles, he nods, he lets Cathy talk, and he does it all at the right times. He has learned his lessons well, but Cathy isn’t interested.

As she tells Martin of her late husband John, he sees a chance to grab Cathy while she’s on the rebound, but she turns the tables on the little man.

Have you ever seen a ghost? I have, and it wasn’t all that much fun. I suspect that Martin knows exactly what I mean.

For this story, I give a rating of 4.5 Stars

Story Four – Act of Love

Oh, boy! I’m having a hard time coming up with a way to tell you about Gina and Gavin without revealing the entire story to you!

Gina loves Gavin, of that there is no doubt, but she struggles with her decision about doing something special for him, something she has never done before. In some social circles, an act like Gavin requests from Gina would be seen as dirty and something to hide, but still she struggles with the idea. She wants to please him, but still…

I think all of us have been in such a situation dealing with the private requests of our lovers. This makes it very easy to relate to Gina.

For this story, I give a rating of 5.0 Stars.

Story Five – The Special Offer

Here we have another Becky in need of some service, but this time there are two men involved. Her husband John and her chef Eduard couldn’t be more opposite…or could they?

Honestly, this is my least favorite of the stories in this collection. There are many reasons for that and the details would only serve as a spoiler for readers, so let me just say that the biggest problem for me was that, unlike the other seven tales, I found this one very predictable.

For this story, I give a rating of 2.5 Stars.

Story Six – A Fateful Error

I’ve never been one to enter contests. I always lose. But Mrs. A. Smith likes them, and we’re up to our eyeteeth in A. Smiths in this delightful tale!

I can see for people entering contests that the rivalry would be not unlike the bingo parlor at the local casino. Ever been to one? Those old ladies will cut your throat over a missed call.

And in this story, A. Smith (Alison) and A. Smith (Anthea) are both to that point. Then again, I can’t blame them…we’re talking about a trip to Disney World here!

As I read this story, I kept seeing the comedy of errors that runs through the old Keystone Cops episodes.

For this story, I give a rating of 4.9 Stars.

Story Seven – The Job

Like so many people today, poor Harry has been out of work for a long time. Money is tight and getting tighter, but Harry comes up with an idea to land a good job. Problem is that he needs a nice suit for the interview, and he just can’t afford one.

But Harry is creative, and that’s a good trait in a designer.

Oh, did I mention that Harry’s wife thinks he’s stark raving mad? Well, she does, but she’s dead wrong.

Just ask the chairman of Harry’s new employer.

For this story, I give a rating of 4.5 Stars.

Story Eight – Living in the Country

And you think you have problems? Ali has a prick of a husband, no income, a car that keeps breaking down, and nearly gets into a fistfight with a dude in a sports car. And those are the good days.

But things get better…potentially a lot better!

Sometimes, as we learn in this tale, you just have to let things happen and know that it’s all for the best.

For this story, I give a rating of 4.0 Stars.

Overall Review

I love stories with a twist, and I always have. There is something about being lead down one road in your mind only to discover that you completely missed the turn a few miles back.

In the tales contained in Wacky Stories for Women Volume One, Mr. Smith proves that he is a master of redirection, and this is a very good thing. Even the one story that wasn’t my particular cup of tea (The Special Offer) was enjoyable despite the predictability of the ending.

There is, however, one huge area where this book could gain a great deal of punch…editing.

Yes, I know I harp on this a lot. Having been in this goofy business for 25 years I have learned that editing is priceless. Well, good editing. Bad editing is not worth a penny. Anyway…

There are a number of problems with the editing of this work and fixing those would make the great stories even better. The issues create distractions for the reader that if removed would make for a truly great book.

That said, this is a fantastic read. The few problems with the edit are consistent, so they tend to fade into the background and don’t get in the way of the stories.

On my first read, I thought that some of the stories should be longer, but someplace around my third run-through, I realized that I was wrong. By and large, the stories are the perfect length. Why? Because you get to know the characters as well as you need to know them and you get the whole picture. The detail is more than enough to make you miss the aforementioned turn and get that excited joy when Mr. Smith shows you the error in your logic.

As I read this delightful book, I found myself laughing out loud at the antics of the players and at my own flawed flow of thought. Of course now my husband and kids are no longer suspect of my sanity…they know with certainty that I’m nuts.

If you’re looking for a few tales that will make you think and make you laugh, Wacky Stories for Women is the book for you.

My final overall rating for this work from John M. W. Smith is 4.8 Stars.

You can find this wonderful selection at Amazon.

Keep Loving!

Melodee

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2013/01/15/book-review-whacky-stories-for-women-vokume-one-by-john-m-w-smith/

Sep 24

Book Review – Thwarting Cupid by Lori Crawford

Thwarting Cupid
By
Lori Crawford

I like comedy. The reason why is very simple, too: If we don’t laugh, we will cry. Besides, it’s easier to smile than to frown.

For some reason, I found Thwarting Cupid very amusing. Actually, I know exactly why I found it funny, and I’ll tell you about that in a minute. Add to the humor the fact that Lori Crawford has spun a tale full of passion, heat, and love and you have a wonderful story.

Yeah, I liked this book…let me tell you why I liked it and, while we’re at it, why it tickled my funny bone.

 


First Impression – 5.0 Stars

Lori had me from the short teaser at the opening of the book. Yes, I never even made it to the story itself before I knew I was going to like this one. On this aspect, I’m not really sure why the hook was set so deep in my jaw, but it was. There are some hints of the amusing things I mentioned above here, but it’s more about how Carissa has a passion and lust down inside of her and how she reacts to the man in her life.

Just before the teaser in the review copy, Lori has placed the Cover Copy. In those short paragraphs, Lori does hint at the problems—and the comedic possibilities—yet to come for Carissa, Hutch, and Quincy.

On my first read, I found myself often smiling and even laughing at some of the situations. Quincy, as the Cupid assigned to Carissa, is a basket case. The poor Cupid just can’t seem to get a grasp on reality, and he is running out of tricks to keep Hutch and Carissa apart. I want to make something perfectly clear here…the comedy I speak of is not contained so much in what Lori has written, but it is the situations she creates and the way the reader’s mind runs with them.

In other words, Lori Crawford has mastered the technique of planting a seed in the reader’s brain and letting it grow. This skill is one of the traits of a true, accomplished author.

Story and Plot – 4.5 Stars

One could argue that the storyline and plot of Thwarting Cupid is not new. It’s been said that there are no new stories, only new ways of telling old ones. Literary, stage, film, and TV history is full of stories of angels/cupids trying to keep a couple apart despite the fact that they are destined to be together as soul mates.

But the simple fact is that Lori Crawford has taken this old idea and given it new life in the form of Thwarting Cupid.

The blend of the passion, chemistry, comedy, and intense relationships is nothing short of magical. While I initially found myself comparing Thwarting Cupid to a number of past reboots of this plot line, I soon lost track of that thought chain because of the freshness Lori brings to the story.

Continuity – 5.0 Stars

The story flows well, and Lori’s voice shines through, bringing a relaxed and everyday feel to the settings, dialogs, and situations. I don’t know where Lori lives or where she grew up, but the story has a west coast feel to me…someplace in the southern California, perhaps, but the details of that don’t matter.

Hutch, for example, strikes me as a SoCal beach bum who decided it was time to grow up and actually make a life for himself. He is driven and dedicated, caring and yet still tough. But Hutch hasn’t lost that boyish charm of his younger—and perhaps wilder—days.

On the other hand, Carissa seems more like a New Yorker…she wants to present a certain level of sophistication and poise, but down inside Carissa is still a little girl in many ways. Her situation in life—that is, that she is still alone and single at her age—puzzles her, but she’s still willing to wait for Mr. Right to come along.

And then there’s Quincy…let me tell you about how Quincy evolved in my mind. If I were casting the movie based on Thwarting Cupid—and that may not be much of a stretch—I would portray Quincy as a stereotypical little Jewish man, accent and all. Maybe he was—before becoming a Cupid—an accountant, or maybe a tailor. He is far more competent than even he thinks, very devoted to his job, and just a little clueless about many things in the work-a-day world. A young Woody Alan would make a good Quincy for the movie.

Editing and Mechanics – 5.0 Stars

The technical details are excellent in Thwarting Cupid, and this fact lets Lori Crawford’s voice and style take center stage in the telling of the story. There are almost no editing errors to distract from this wonderful tale, and that is very refreshing.

Overall Rating – 4.9 Stars

I don’t really know what to add.

Thwarting Cupid is an amazing story of love, passion, and life that all readers will enjoy. Missing are many of the distractions of some other books, so you can sit back and spend a wonderful few hours letting Lori Crawford entertain you in her own special way.

You can find Thwarting Cupid at Lyrical Press.

Keep Loving!

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/09/24/book-review-thwarting-cupid-by-lori-crawford/

Aug 05

Book Review – The Spell You Cast by Rushmore Judd and Erin O’Riordan

The Spell You Cast
By
Rushmore Judd
And
Erin O’Riordan

Before we move on with this story, I want to make it clear to the readers that this tale of witchcraft and passion is pure erotica…there is no romance to be found here. This is NOT a bad thing, though, at least as far as I’m concerned. I just know that some readers want romance, and you won’t find it here.

Now, with that caveat out of the way, let’s press on…

The team of Judd and O’Riordan have spun a tale here of a small coven of witches and a man who has—with full knowledge of who and what the ladies are—fallen in with them as they move in a realm of passion and sex, but with a goal in mind. As I have said before, I am not a tremendous fan of the paranormal and magic, but I try to approach these things with an open mind.

The Spell You Cast is firmly set in the genres of paranormal and magic. In the world created by Rushmore and Erin, magic rules and the spells are very real.

First Impression – 4.5 Stars

I instantly fell in love with the four witches; Madeline, Monica, Vanessa, and Jessica. These are four strong women, and they know just exactly what it is they want. Or, as soon becomes clear, need. And they are not the least bit afraid to go after it with every power at their disposal.

I likewise fell for Troy, the man who has fallen for Madeline and soon succumbs to the spell the coven casts on him.

But what grabbed me even more are the interactions between the women…there are playful moments, like a bunch of schoolgirls, and then there are far more serious times when the women show their true strength and underlying power.

At the same time, Troy is fully aware of what is going on, but somewhat powerless to stop things. That is at least what the actual words of the story convey, but if you read between the lines, Troy has freewill and is able to break away should he really want to…but tell me what man would walk—or run—away from four beautiful women making love to him?

None I know of!

Story and Plot – 4.5 Stars

I said in the intro that The Spell You Cast is pure erotica with no hint of romance, and that is totally true. I also said that this fact is not a bad thing in my opinion. Now, let me tell you why…

The vast majority of erotica has no story or plot at all. It is simply a bunch of sex scenes strung together in a hodge-podge manner that leaves no room for an actual story.

I am very happy to report that this is not the case for The Spell You Cast!

The story is strong, and the plot flows well from beginning to end. Yes, there are the obligatory sex scenes, but they are a part of the story. And frankly, again in my opinion, if you took out the sex scenes, this story would fall apart. On the other hand, if you take away the story, the sex scenes will become bland.

In other words, O’Riordan and Judd have accomplished the feat of balancing the sex and the story in The Spell You Cast. Not an easy trick!

Next, I have to roll back to the characters…

Madeline, Jessica, Monica, and Vanessa are fantastic. Strong, competent, driven, and determined, the witches are able to develop a plan and reach their goal. The women are all likeable and easy to fall in love with. The only thing I would change are the names…with three of the four having names that end in “a”, I sometimes got the names mixed up.

And then there is Troy…I can see why the witches want to have his baby. Er, babies. Anyway…he is a great deal stronger than one might first suspect, but as I said, what man would turn down bedding four gorgeous women, magic potions or not? Troy didn’t strike me as brain damaged, and he came through. No pun intended!

Continuity – 4.0 Stars

The sex scenes in The Spell You Cast are—on a scale of 1 to 10—about a 5. Yeah, pretty middle of the road, but still pretty hot. Personally, I would have liked to see more and hotter sex, but the story is still very satisfying.

Straight men will like the sex…again we’re talking about four women having their way with one man. But guys, there isn’t much here in the way of 3-(or 4- or 5-) way sex. The women are all present, but other than some dirty talk, it’s pretty much one-on-one.

Oh, and guys? You probably couldn’t handle serious 3 or more way sex. 😉

Gay men, you probably won’t care for this story. Really, there’s not much here for you.

Straight women…this is problematic. The lack of romance may turn off some readers here, but a few will like the idea. It’s clear that Madeline and Troy have actual feelings for each other, but Madeline is willing to share Troy with her sisters. It takes a very strong and self-confident woman to do that.

Gay women will be left feeling disappointed, I’m afraid. This goes back to my desire for more intense sex scenes. Some action between the sisters of the coven would be welcomed by gay/bi-sexual women, and the straight men will like that, too. I also think some contact between the women would crank up the heat by several notches, and everyone would be more satisfied.

Editing and Mechanics – 4.0 Stars

Judd and O’Riordan made great use of scene breaks, and that skill avoided nearly all of the head-hopping problems that a story of this kind could have had. Well done!

My only complaint here is that the sentences are all about the same length and complexity level, and the length and complexity levels are both pretty low. This leads to a somewhat choppy read, a tennis match sort of flow that would get monotonous if The Spell You Cast were too much longer than it is now.

Overall Rating – 4.3 Stars

What can I say?

I liked The Spell You Cast, and found the characters and world that Rushmore and Erin created likeable, believable, and a fun place.

Yes, there is some room for improvement, but all stories have that, including mine. In fact, I can’t recall every reading a story that didn’t have at least some room for improvement. That’s the nature of the beast!

But, The Spell You Cast is a well written, enjoyable story that just happens to involve witches, magic, and no small amount of sex.

This is a tale that while firmly in the erotica arena will—I believe—appeal to both men and women, and falls into the Must Read category.

You can find The Spell You Cast on Smashwords.

Keep Loving!

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/08/05/book-review-the-spell-you-cast-by-rushmore-judd-and-erin-oriordan/

Jul 30

Book Review – My Forever And Always by Tania West

My Forever And Always
(Immortal Ambrosia, Volume #1)

By

Tania West

I don’t like most vampire stories. There are really two reasons why and before we get into the review of this story, let me tell you about that…

First, in most stories, the vampires are portrayed as good guys. More or less, anyway. They are just misunderstood, and they are suave and debonair. It’s simply that humans don’t understand the vampires. Bullshit. Vampires are apex predators, and they are killers. Not really their fault, that’s just the hand that evolution has dealt them. But the fact is that vampires are vicious killers.

And that’s the second thing…if vampires were real—which they aren’t—there would be no humans left. Vampires, as portrayed in the legends, are a superior species and would have eaten all the humans long ago. Once the humans died off, so would the vampires, and some other creature would now be running the planet. In other words, vampires don’t exist because they can’t. And I won’t go into the numerous laws of physics that such creatures would violate.

Anyway…here’s my review of My Forever And Always by Tania West.

 

First Impressions – 4.5 Stars

Surprised, aren’t you? After that lead in, you thought I was going to hate this story, but you’re wrong. I really liked it!

The interactions between Amaranthus, Baldassare, and Liam are fascinating, and each scene is a pleasure to read.

In all honesty, I didn’t know how I felt about our heroine Amaranthus for some time into the story, and I finally figured out why…the story is written in the first person (more on this later) and it was several pages into the story before I even knew her name. It’s hard to like—or dislike—a character without a name to attach to them. But I came to like her despite the fact that she is indeed a killing predator. Amaranthus has a heart and soul, and she has compassion to go with them.

On the other hand, I took an instant dislike to Baldassare. The best term I can come up with to describe this vile creature is that he’s a son of a bitch. He’s needy, insecure, wicked, cruel, and probably more than a little psychotic. In other words, Baldassare is the perfect villain…I love to hate him!

And then there is Liam…on my first read I wasn’t sure if Liam is comedy relief, our hero, Amaranthus’ love interest, or none of the above. To be blunt, I’m still not sure! But that’s OK…Liam is a wonderful character, able to do all of these things and probably a lot more. I think you’re going to find Liam as intriguing as I have.

Story and Plot – 4.0 Stars

I would have liked to give My Forever And Always a little higher score here, but I can’t…the tales of vampires have been done to death, or at least close.

But, despite literally hundreds of thousands of vampire stories on the market, this story has a fresh spin to it. As I said in the intro, many stories want to make vampires into something they aren’t, but Tania avoids that old formula writing and portrays the vampires as the thing they really are.

In this vein (no pun intended!), Tania is able to take this old, tired genre in a new direction and make the story flow and hold the reader’s attention.

For a number of reasons, that’s not an easy task, but Tania makes it work, much to the delight of the reader.

Continuity – 4.0 Stars

I’m picky about this…I want the story to have a good internal consistency and for the prose to flow and hold together. Sometimes it seems that I’m asking too much…

But that’s not the case with My Forever And Always…Tania manages to paint a tale that while 100% pure fantasy is consistent and flows from start to finish. I found one, tiny little error in the logic flow, and that one took me four reads and I was actively looking for such things. I can assure you that the average reader will never even see the problem. Even if they do, it doesn’t impact the story at all.

Editing and Mechanics – 4.5 Stars

Wow…

I have no clue who edited My Forever And Always. Maybe Tania did it herself. Maybe she paid a freelance editor. Maybe the publisher did the edits. But it doesn’t matter.

This is one of the best editing jobs I have seen in a LONG time. I counted two small errors. That’s it. Just two. Again, I’ll bet that 99.99% of the readers won’t even notice.

Remember above when I said that My Forever And Always is written in the first person? I told you that we would come back to that, and now is the time…

Writing in the first person is hard. It’s easy to get into head hopping, tense and number confusions, and other grammatical badlands when you’re writing in the first person. There are a number of professional, experienced authors who can pull it off. Very few new writers can make it work.

Well, Tania is one of those few.

Written totally in the point of view of Amaranthus, My Forever And Always is a joy to read. There is no confusion, and you always know whose eyes you are looking through as the reader.

Well done, Tania!

Overall Rating – 4.3 Stars

Beyond telling you that I really enjoyed My Forever And Always, I’m not sure what else to say.

There are hints of romance, violence, comedy, and a myriad of other facets to this well written story. The characters are both believable and likeable. The flow and logic are amazingly tight. And the first person style really pulls the reader into the story.

This one has it all!

If you’re like me and not a big fan of vampire stories, you need to read My Forever And Always. Tania will drag you kicking and screaming into the world she creates and once you settle down, you’ll love it there.

If you already like vampires, then My Forever And Always is a clear must read. You’ll gain a whole new view of how a vampire story should be written.

The biggest problem I see for Tania is keeping this roll going.

You can buy My Forever And Always at Amazon.

Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/07/30/book-review-my-forever-and-always-by-tania-west/

Jul 22

Book Review – The Case of the Murdered Heiress by Jon Rivera

THE CASE OF THE MURDERED HEIRESS
(HUNTER BURNS INVESTIGATION – BOOK 1)
By
Jon Rivera

I like crime drama, but I do admit that I tend to lean to true crime drama as opposed to pure fiction accounts. Over the years, I have even written my fair share of such stories, mostly fictional in nature…go figure.

I was excited when Jon Rivera contacted me about reviewing his short story The Case of the Murdered Heiress (Hunter Burns Investigation – Book 1), and I jumped at the chance. I did so not only because I like crime drama, but also because the story is in the erotica arena and is sexually explicit.

Yes…this story is not suitable for work or the under 18 crowd.

And I like the cover, too.

So, let’s get into the review…

First Impression – 2.0 Stars

I was pretty frustrated after my first read because I ended up reading the story three or four times on that first run-through. Why? Because I kept getting lost. And I kept getting pissed off at Hunter Burns. More on both of these issues in a minute.

The other thing that frustrated me was the choppy pattern to the story. Again, more on that below, but let me say here that the sing-song rhythmic beat tended to make me lose focus on the plot.

Story and Plot – 1.5 Stars

First of all, The Case of the Murdered Heiress is highly predictable. I won’t spoil the read for you, but I pretty well knew the outcome by the end of chapter one. This really isn’t the fault of Jon but more that this particular plot has been used countless times by a myriad of writers, and there really isn’t anything new here left for an author to say.

And then there are the characters…Hunter Burns makes a big deal about his high IQ (162) in the very first paragraph. By the end of the second paragraph, it’s clear the guy might have a high IQ, but he’s an idiot. He misses so many clues that it’s a wonder he can pay his bills. Or even tie his shoes. The leading lady, one Sarah Masterson, is worse…one-dimensional and nothing more than your average garden variety bimbo. Hunter’s secret love, FBI Agent Gina Patterson, is only marginally better, but is such a weak woman that there is no way she would last in the real FBI. In short, there are no likable characters in this story, and none that really are worth even hating. I was left with no feelings one way or the other about the characters.

Continuity – 2.0 Stars

After my third read of The Case of the Murdered Heiress, it came to me why all of the above problems exist…this story is written as plain erotica aimed at a male audience. As such, the plot, characters, and all of the rest are not at all important. All that matters are the sex scenes.

And there are several that from the erotica spin are pretty good…Hunter dominates the weak women and they thank him for it. Just like a porno flick, the sex scenes are very much formula, though with selected positions and a pop-shot.

Editing and Mechanics – 1.0 Star

The Case of the Murdered Heiress is a bit of a rough read due to the number of editing errors. There are many grammatical and spelling errors, tons of tense and number confusions, and enough head-hopping to make the typical reader dizzy.

Add to this the fact that a good editor would help Jon fix many of the other issues I talked about above, and the need for a decent editor shines like a spotlight in Hollywood on opening night.

Overall Rating – 1.6 Stars

I think this is very much a fair rating for The Case of the Murdered Heiress, especially after asking Jack (my husband) to read the story. He liked the sex scenes and skipped over the rest.

And this is what the typical male reader of erotica will do, too. Men will enjoy the story for the sex.

The other half of the market—that is to say the women out there—will give up probably before the end of chapter two. There isn’t enough story or plot to hold the female focus.

With all of this said, I believe that Jon Rivera has some good potential. With a proper editor and a focus on the broader market, I think he can write some entertaining stories.

Only time will tell if that is actually the case or not.

Jon’s books are available on Amazon.
Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/07/22/519/

Jul 15

Book Review – The Boar King (The Battle Lord – Chapter 1) by Michael Evans

The Boar King
The Battle Lord – Chapter 1

Until I received the request to consider reviewing this book (and I find I am turning down about 90% of all requests), I had never heard of Michael Evans. Not even once that I can recall.

And frankly, I like it that way…that prevents me from having any prejudice one way or the other about the author or the stories the author writes. We can start with, shall we say, a clean slate.

Besides, I like reading the works of new authors. It’s just plain fun.

Anyway…

Michael sent The Boar King to me and I had a lot of fun reading it.

 


Let me tell you why…

First Impression – 4.0 Stars

I have to say right up front that this kind of fantasy story really has never been my cup of tea. That said, I found myself getting wrapped up in the story. The struggles of Liam and his family—most particularly Mark—are captivating. It’s very easy to fall head-first into the world that Michael is painting for us in The Boar King. Even Urd and many of the other Idan characters have likeable things despite being the clear antagonists from the first paragraph.

I was expecting a great deal of battle based on both the title and the lead-in to the fight for the city of Demos, and I usually don’t care for heavy graphic violence like I expected the story to produce. As I moved deeper into the story, I was pleasantly surprised…of course such a tale will have battle and violence, but it presented as a matter of course to the story, not as the story itself. Michael handled this as tastefully as I can possibly imagine it being handled.

Story and Plot – 4.5 Stars

As I said, I don’t know Michael Evans, so I don’t have a clue how long he has been writing, but I am impressed with how well the plot moves this story along. There are a few small detours here and there, and those may be due to the fact that The Boar King is the first story in a series…that is, these curveballs in the story may apply to later happenings, things that we will look back on as readers and think, “Ah-ha! That’s what he was talking about!”

The thing that has impressed me the most is the development of the characters. Despite The Boar King being only about 8,000 words, Michael has done a wonderful job making each of the major characters—and many of the minor ones—very real. For example, I wonder if Merid plays a larger role in later installments. But I digress…

Continuity – 4.0 Stars

The Boar King is remarkably well structured for such a short story. I found very few places where there were disagreements, and those were minor. Again, it is entirely possible that these few, tiny inconsistencies are actually deliberate and will be addressed in later chapters of the overall story of The Battle Lord.

Editing and Mechanics – 4.0 Stars

The editing of The Boar King is someplace between very good and excellent. I counted one each spelling and usage errors. That’s it. The line editor earned their money on this story.

But…

There is a fair amount of head hopping in the story. For those who don’t know, in the publishing industry, we define head hopping as a sudden shift of point of view (POV) from one character to another within a given scene. Head hopping should be avoided because it tends to confuse readers. Some really good, really experienced authors can pull it off once in a while, but most don’t even try. In short, there are no good reasons to head hop, and a million reasons not to.

In other words, it is bad practice, bad style, and a good editor will kill the head hopping.

In most places, the head hopping is tolerable and not too confusing. There were a couple of places where I had to reread the passage a few times to figure out what was going on, but that was OK by me…I enjoyed the passages anyway!

Overall Rating – 4.1 Stars

Yeah, despite this number being just the average of the four areas I look at, I think this is a very fair rating. In spite of the fact that I tend not to like fantasy all that much, I found myself having a good time with this story.

The Boar King is a fast read, and one that you won’t be sorry for giving a few minutes of your time. Actually, by way of a caveat, you will probably spend more than a few minutes of your time…I found myself going back to read the story several more times just because I liked it so much.

I’m sure that you will like The Boar King, too.

You can learn more at Amazon

Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/07/15/book-review-the-boar-king-the-battle-lord-chapter-1-by-michael-evans/

Jul 02

Book Review: Past Jumper by Jamie Heppner

Yes, I had another review request that I have accepted. Maybe this is getting to be a habit. This time, I was asked by Jamie Heppner to review his short story Past Jumper.

I have known Jamie for some time…the exact length eludes me right now, but it’s pushing two years if my mind isn’t completely gone. Yeah, that’s a distinct possibility. In the time I have known Jamie I have learned two things about him…

First, he has a ton of good stories rattling around in his head. The little voices that all authors hear are very busy talking to him, and he feels that compulsion we writers are all familiar with to tell those stories. For those of you who are not authors, this is something that you can likely never understand…some see it as a blessing—a gift if you like—that lets us reach out across space and time to create worlds and events that others only dream of. In many ways, this “gift” can be just as much of a curse…the voices just won’t leave you alone sometimes.

The other thing I have learned about Jamie is that he is still in his relative infancy when it comes to writing. He struggles with the “how” part of storytelling, the ways to get the ideas across to the reader. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have told Jamie that he already has the hard part done—the story itself forming in his head—and that the rest is simple mechanics. The bottom line is that we can train anyone on things like grammar, spelling, syntax, and all the other details. The real sign of an author is coming up with a story that others want to hear.

And I think you’ll want to hear Past Jumper

 

 
First Impression Rating – 5.0 Stars

Past Jumper is relatively short. I don’t have the exact word count, but my guess is around 11,000-12,000 words or so. My first read took about twenty minutes, and my initial rating was a LOT lower than what you see above. The reason was all about me, and not the story. I write hard science fiction. I also write science and technology post-secondary text books. I wanted Past Jumper to be hard SF, and it’s not. My first read had my desires getting in the way, and that’s not fair. I cleared my mind of these unreasonable wants and read the story again, and that’s where the top rank rating came from.

Aiden is a great character. He’s young, confused, scared, frustrated, and just plain pissed off. He makes a lot of mistakes, but he learns from them. The boy is doing the best that he can, but it never seems quite good enough.

Story and Plot – 4.0 Stars

The world Jamie creates in Past Jumper is a bad one. No, I don’t mean that Jamie failed to create a well defined world, because he did that very nicely…I mean that the post-apocalyptic world that he paints is one that no person in their right mind would want to live in. It’s desolate, 90% destroyed, and a hard, tough place to hang out. Aiden is struggling to fix this, but while he thinks he knows how, things just don’t go very well for him.

Past Jumper is not science fiction. There are some that would argue that it is soft SF, but they are wrong. Past Jumper is 100% pure fantasy, and that’s OK. I won’t get into the science side of things, but the reader needs to know that this is fantasy, not science. Once you get into that mindset, the story is absolutely wonderful. The blending of science and magic in Aiden’s world makes for an intriguing combination of reality and fiction that is rarely found.

Continuity – 3.0 Stars

This area suffers because of the length of Past Jumper. If a bit longer—maybe only a few thousand words—things could have been brought together a little better.

Be that as it may, the story flows well, though there are some areas that are left wide open. The most glaring example is just how did Aiden come to possess his magic? Jamie tells us how Aiden discovered that he has magic powers, but there is no explanation how he got them in his world in the first place. In lockstep with that is just how the world came to violate a good number (I counted 138) of the laws of physics.

Editing and Mechanics – 1.0 Star

Remember when I said above that Jamie is still in his writing infancy and struggling with the “how” part of storytelling? Well, we’re back to that here.

This is the single biggest danger to self-publication…a lack of proper editing.

Past Jumper has a huge number of grammatical and spelling errors. There are equal numbers of syntax and logic errors. Over all, these errors do make the story more than a little hard to read and follow.

That said, I think most readers can ignore these purely mechanical problems, and I would suggest that you just kick your inner editor into neutral and read the story. You won’t regret that.

Overall Rating – 3.3 Stars

Sheesh…

Just as with another recent review, I really hate this rating. It should be MUCH higher! Just as with so many stories and books I read these days, a bad edit has trashed the overall rating of the story.

By way of a disclaimer, I want you to ignore the overall rating. I have to put it hear because it is what it is, but it is VERY misleading. If we just do the simple math, if the edit on Past Jumper was “high average” with 3.0 stars, the overall rating would instead be 3.8, a much better number.

{OP-ED MODE ON} Readers have seen it. Writers have seen it. We professional authors just smile and shake our heads. Self-published books all have the same problem, and that is a lack of editing. Many self-published writers hire an editor, but that simply doesn’t help. See my Rules for Authors Number Two. There was a time that professional authors were afraid of self-publication because we thought it would cut into our market, and it did…for a while. Now, readers know what to expect. We’re not worried anymore. {OP-ED MODE OFF}

Anyway, let’s get down to the brass tacks here…

If you are looking for a good fantasy story that will hold your attention and entertain you, then Past Jumper is a must read.

I promise that you will love this short story just as much as I did.

You can pick up your copy today at Amazon for less than a buck!

Keep Loving!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://melodeeaaron.com/blog/2012/07/02/book-review-past-jumper-by-jamie-heppner/