Monday, June 30, 2014

House of Neotar, a promotional review

    I was approached by author K.L. Abbott in regards to a story entitled House of Neotar. The request was a bit different than I'm used to, but one I'm glad I kept an open mind to it. The House of Neotar is actually an excerpt from a story entitled Kindler of Flames which is part of an even bigger series Abbott is soon to publish.

     I've been approached for excerpts before, most of them the same unfinished 10 pages that many send out to agents and after reading and realizing how not ready they are I contact the author and scrap the project until a later date when they are closer to publishing. So when Abbott approached me in regards to reading an 8-chapter portion in the center of her book I was skeptical to say the least, particularly when told the story lacked the main protagonist. Despite my skepticism I'm more than glad I decided to move forward with reading this story.

     Those of you that frequent my page know that I like to write my own short synopsis of the early portion of a story, highlighting some of the particulars that draw me to the story. I feel that the synopsis of this part of the overall story is told better than me by the author herself:

"Driana and Zelphinae go to live with Dmitri and Nreid in the House of Neotar, where bonds are shared, and then shattered; where the past is remembered, the present revealed and the future lays in ruin. In a world of deception, intrigue and powerful secrets, three young children must survive the great danger that connects them all, to save themselves and the ones they love."

    Since this is an excerpt I'm going to do my review portion a bit different. Instead of an official "What I liked" portion I'm going to skip straight ahead to the ratings portion. *A note this is based on the excerpt alone. I will be doing a follow up review once the story is published next year.

     9/10 for readability - Its apparent from these 8 chapters that Abbott is a very strong writer. Her writing paints a wonderful picture of the world she has created all the while it moves at a smooth pace that keeps you turning the pages. If the full story continues this pattern it will be a wonderful read, as a whole.

     XX/XX for story - Being that this is only a portion of the overall story, there is no real way for me to rate this story. The 8 chapters is told well and is solid, but without seeing more I cannot give it a true rating.

     9/10 for characters - All the characters from this excerpt share one common trait, they're all wonderful. Each one has a depth to him/her that leaves a memorable stamp. Being that these 8 chapters lack the main protagonist, I'm more than excited to see who there is to meet beyond the few I've met so far.

     A big thank you to K.L. Abbott herself for contacting me regarding this excerpt. I'm more than excited for the finished product and I will be doing a full-review next summer when its released.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: Shadowcursed by Gelo R. Fleisher

     The first book I wrote cover to cover, which is sadly still awaiting my return for editing, was a novella. Since writing it I’ve been to site after site, board after board reading the debate whether or not novellas were a good avenue to pursue for a writer. There seem to be as many arguments for them as against them, some being the per page cost wasn’t comparable to a novel, others stating  that we pay multiple times that for movies that give us even less hours of entertainment. I have been on the fence on this issue and it is regrettably one of the reasons I am yet to return to that manuscript I mentioned.

     I received a proverbial push recently after reading Shadowcursed by Gelo R Fleisher. Shadowcursed is a story that follows and aging thief and his last mission in a fantastic medieval setting. The thief, Bolen, is ready to hang up his cloak and lock picks, at least after he completes his final job. Upon successfully undertaking the mission Bolen soon finds the item he procured means more to its true owner than Bolen’s life.

     Thrown in between an immortal monster and a city official with a history of executing people for lesser offenses than stealing from him, it begins to seem as though Bolen has run out of options. Bolen is backed into a corner with only an enlightened monk, and an enemy turned ally to aid him as he fights for his life.

     I mentioned above about the debate and inner turmoil related to publishing novellas. Fleisher's novella really pushed me in favor of them for a few reasons. Obviously with a shorter story you have to find new, and unique, ways to couple details and back story with a strong ending and not just a blanket statement of closure. Fleisher accomplishes this and more with his master story telling, and ability to make you feel as though you've been on countless missions with Bolen while only every speaking of this one mission. 

What I liked

  • Shadowcursed is what many short story and novella authors fail, a full story. Fleisher fills the shorter manuscript with a full-length novel's worth of characters and actions, all while keeping it from feeling rushed or cramped.
  • The characters have a stark contrast that make them work together. You get an evil, devilish feel from the antagonists, a sense of peace from the good character, and in the middle is Bolen whom transitions on more than one occasion.
  • There is a near poetic way that Fleisher describes his world. It wasn't hard to picture the dirty slums of this decrepit, poverty stricken town.

What could have been improved

  • This is going to come across counter-intuitive to my overall point above, but the one thing that I wish I could have had more of was the story. This is not to say the novella is not worth its price tag at all, I just found my self so enthralled by Fleisher's characters and story that I wanted more.

     In the end what you get with Shadowcursed is a whole lot of story is a slightly smaller wrapper. It may not be a 400-word epic novel that spans centuries, but with a 2.99 amazon price tag you cannot ask for anymore than the wonderful story Fleisher has written. I highly recommend this to anyone, particularly to any of you that worry about the cost per word in an indie author, I think this is definitely a story that will help open your eyes.
       Overall I'm going to give Shadowcursed by Gelo R. Fleisher a 8/10 based on:

      8/10 for readability - Shadowcursed is one of those few stories you get that continuously move forward. When you write a novel you can get away with parts that lag a bit, but in a novella you must keep it moving at all times and this story has a wonderful flow to it.

       8/10 for story - The stories inspiration is apparent early on, for any fan of the video game series Thief. I say inspiration and not based on because while the title characters have similar professions, that is where the similarities end. While the video game does a good job making the run down city a character in itself, Shadowcursed makes the city a very vivid background to a very creative story.      

     7/10 for characters - Each character in Fleisher's story has his or her own unique voice. There is almost a perfect contrast in each character that covers the entire gambit of basic human emotions. There is one character I would like to have seen more of, though she was as sinister as she could be, and that is the main antagonist's "minion".

       X-Factor - What I think sets this story apart from others is something I've already mentioned. Its the flow of this story that makes it worth its weight. There is never a moment in which you're confused or bored because story is constantly being thrown at you. That's not to say that Fleisher doesn't slow it down at times, its just the times the story slows fits perfect with the times when you can't imagine the roller coaster possibly moving any faster.

    Thank you to Gelo Fleisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this wonderful manuscript. It really set me back on my original path of publishing, and I look forward to reading more from Fleisher in the future.

  If you would like to pick up a copy of Shadowcursed click on this link to go to the Amazon Store.

 Or you can click on this link to be taken to Barnes and Nobel.  


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Father's day giveaway.

     My wife and I decided to do our family's Fathers day festivities on Saturday this year. Each year since my son was born, he's three now, we end up spending most of every holiday at our parents' house. 3-4 hours with her parents 3-4 with mine and the next thing you know we ran out of time to open up Christmas gifts, find Easter eggs or baskets or find much time to relax on Mother's or Father's day.

     A thought occured to me while we were planning our Sunday, why not do a book giveaway? A chance to give a father in your life, or yourself, an indie book.

     I was going to pick out a few different books I've reviewed that I feel would be good for fans of multiple genres, but instead here is a breakdown of some of my favorites from the different genres they represent.

     To enter, simply leave a comment on this post with what book you would like a chance to win. For anyone who does not have a Google+ account, please feel free to email me at and put "Father's day giveaway" as the subject.

     All entries need to be received by Saturday, June 11th at noon U.S. Eastern Standard Time so I can contact the winner and get the email address for the receipient of the book.

     Winner will be choosen by random drawing after the contest closes and the winner will be contacted by 3:00 the same day.

     Any questions or comments please feel free to email me.

*Both links in the horror section take you to my Halloween post.

Let me know if any links are broken or taking you to a different title. I did leave out a few titles that are traditionally published works.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Unknown Sun by Cheryl S. Mackey


     For my next review I responded to a request from author Cheryl S. Mackey regarding her novel The Unknown Sun. I was taken by the back cover description immediately, and hoped that the story would reach the expectations I had for it based on that description. 

     The Unknown Sun follows Moria, a young high school student with a streak of luck that defies nature. Having survived two accidents that took the lives of everyone, she is left a mere shell of her former self. Amid all the whispers and snide comments Moria has learned to cope by keeping herself distant and avoiding any possibility of a meaningful relationship, on any level. 

     Moria's attempt at solitude, however, is quickly shattered by the revelation that her classmates already know her reputation and past. One boy, in particular, greets her with hostility and a vicious encounter that removes all doubt that her new school is filled with the same hurtful classmates.
     After arriving home Moria is forced into a struggle with an overwhelming opponent whom she has no hope of overcoming. Only when her cries for help are answered by two winged warriors that fend off the green eyed boy, while transporting Moria to their world for protection in the process.
     Once she meets their father, and the link between those that dwell in the land of the Unknown Sun and the human race is revealed, she begins a journey with the two winged warriors; a journey to save the world, as well as learn who she really is. 
     Its apparent early on that Mackey is a gifted writer. The Unknown Sun is a solidly written, well conceived story that isn't like anything I've read before. The world Mackey was able to create is nothing short of beautiful and the ever thickening plot keeps you turning the page, wanting and expecting more. The story almost became hard to review by the end for a few reasons:

What I liked:

  • As I said above, Mackey's writing itself is wonderful. Her word choice and metaphors transform a good story into a great read. 
  • The world of the Unknown Sun is one that feels both new, and is described in a wonderful way that transports you there right along with Moria.

Overall I'm going to give The Unknown Sun a 7/10 based on:

     10/10 for readability - I cannot say enough just how perfect Mackey's writing is. Each word and phrase is put on paper with a purpose and creates a flow that is pure pleasure to read. Just based on her expert skill I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

     5/10 for story - Though the story is one I haven't seen before, it felt a little rushed. You're moved from one scene to another at a pace that keeps you turning pages, but just a little to fast. A second point in the story is the romance that develops between Moria and one of the other main characters. It seems to stem from this character saving her, but it feels less authentic than most romances. Though there is a strong connection between the two for reasons more than just physical attraction, it became a bit of a series of forced awkward moments, at least in the beginning.

     7/10 for characters - The characters in the world of the Unknown Sun are incredibly diverse. In the first two chapters you meet a wide variety of very real feeling characters that have their own personalities. The feeling and emotion that emanates from them is very strong. Many of their interactions do feel a bit rushed and some of them suffer from not getting a real chance to know them.

     X-Factor - The real x-factor for this story is Mackey's master level writing. There is a poetic nature to her writing that is almost to emotional for the story.

     A big thank you to author Cheryl S. Mackey for reaching out to me about reading and reviewing The Unknown Sun. The story is a new and original fantasy that is wonderfully written and presented. I highly recommend picking this up for any fantasy fan.

Click here to go to the Amazon site and pick up a copy of The Unknown Sun.