Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Reaper's Opus and other news

Well it has been several months since my last post, and I apologize. I, greatly, underestimated exactly what was going to be going in to publishing my first book. But as of October 2nd The Reaper's Opus officially was released on Smashwords and Amazon

In addition to The Reaper's Opus, I also had a short story published in an anthology. Wyrd Worlds II. That title is also available via Smashwords and Amazon. I had reviewed Wyrd Worlds on this site during my first year, it is a great anthology and several of the same authors are back for a second go around this year. 

I am very happy to announce I'm back to my roots and reviewing. I'm going to be doing 2 reviews a month at the max for now, and will not be opening for submissions for some time as I have several stories still to be reviewed. 

On Sunday I will be posting my review of The Course of Blades by Davaun Sanders, the third installment of The Seedbearing Prince series. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Double Life by S. Usher Evans

     I've always been the type that drifts. I don't mean drifting of to sleep, or the lesser advised drift style of racing, rather I'm talking about allowing my mind to drift off into fantasy. It may seem like a quote from a cheesy 80's after school program, but it truly is amazing where your imagination will take you if you let it. I've been everywhere from the Spine of the World mountains with my childhood hero Drizzt Do'urden, to the bridge of the Normandy fighting Reaper's with Commander Shepard.

     The protagonist in S. Usher Evans' Sci-fi tale Double Life has that same character trait. Except instead of losing herself in her imagination, she gets to live her imagination in her second life. 

     The story opens on young Lyssa and her father exploring a heavenly body known as Leveman's Vortex. Her father is the only one who has ever been able to navigate the body whom many revere as the gateway to the afterlife. As her father's temper erupts the Arch of Eron erupts in kind sending young Lyssa plunging into a river of fire. 

     As we're moved to the future we find Lyssa now has attained her doctorate in the same field of deep space exploration as her father, and is now surveying and selling planets to development companies. Her life at the academy takes a back seat, however, to her true calling as a bounty hunter. Using her studies and planet surveying as a funding source, she shoots through the galaxy chasing some of the galaxies most wanted space pirates, or at least that's her goal. 

     Razia, her alter ego, is the only woman pirate ever to have been accepted into one of the four main pirate "webs", but has been stuck on probation since her joining. The leader of the web keeps her on bounties that can't pay the cost of chasing and collecting the men. To make matters worse her boss at the academy gives her an intern that happens to be one of her many siblings, to spy on her actions and locate her father who has been missing since the incident on Leveman's Vortex. 

     Caught between a raising price on her head and keeping her brother, Vel, from discovering and reporting on her actions, Lyssa tries to climb the pirate ladder while slowly pushing her 'normal' life to the side. Once the snakes begin to reveal themselves her only hope lies with trusting part of the family that has shut her out and despised her for almost 20 years. 

     There's a certain laid back nature that comes across in Evans' writing. While the story gets deeper and more thrilling, there is a certain easiness to her writing that keeps you in that moment without being overwhelmed. There are a few places where the calm writing affects some of the places where you would expect some more emotion from either Lyssa or Raiza, but both characters lean towards anger and Evans has no trouble portraying the fiery anger that emanates from this character. 

What I liked:
  •  Instead of creating a stereotypical meek scientist meets spunky pirate that you would expect. Lyssa doesn't loss Raiza at all, but rather displays the same traits that make her character great while holding back just enough to keep her second life a secret. 
  • The variety of characters knows no end. Each one you meet is so different from the other that throughout the story you run into not one that is like the others, with exception to Lyssa's family that is essentially full of the same high-end snobs that loath Lyssa for her involvement with her father's research. 
  • I mentioned above about this, but the laid back writing style Evans uses is relaxing. Even during the most intense moments, you still can enjoy the story without getting too wrapped up. 
Overall I'm going to give Double Life a 8/10 based on:
8/10 for readability - I've mentioned this a couple times now, but I can't say enough that I enjoyed the relaxing nature of the story. This gave the story a nice smooth flow that kept the pages turning, even when the action wasn't quite there.

7/10 for story - I enjoyed the overall story idea as a whole, but where I found a disconnect was the slow developing nature of the story. Starting with a huge traumatic event was a plus, but otherwise it was a bit slow in developing. I would have like to have seen a little more of the action that comes at times.

8/10 for characters - The characters of Double Life cover the spectrum of personality types. You have pure good, pure evil, intense and laid-back. Each one brings an important role to the story, even the ancillary 'bounty' characters Raiza chases are unique and make small stories, though she only chases a few in this volume.

X-Factor - I feel like the main selling point for this story is its namesake; the double life that Lyssa leads is such a different spin then I've read in relatable stories. Both characters are the same, but not so much that you wonder how nobody has put 2 and 2 together. Both are fierce, fiery women that rule this story with their personalities alone. 

     In the end Double Life by S. Usher Evans is a lighthearted sci-fi space adventure that spans the universe. Each page turn presents more and more of an ever growing story in the lives of Lyssa and Raiza. I'd recommend this spirited adventure to any sci-fi fan as a great weekend read. 

     A big thank you to author S.Usher Evans for reaching out to me about this story. I look forward to seeing  a second volume and reading more about Raiza and Lyssa's adventures in bounty hunting, and extra planetary exploration.

If you'd like to pick up a copy for yourself, click here to access the Amazon site. 

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.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Deceived by Julie Anne Lindsey

     An idea occurred to me a few weeks ago to do a series of articles featuring regional authors from the Ohio Valley. I set out to find as many current authors as I could and queried several of them in regards of the articles. Among the authors that responded I selected Deceived by Julie Anne Lindsey as my first story to read. The intention behind the articles was to post it on my author blog, not to do a full review. This, however, had to be thrown out the window once I read Deceived.

    Deceived opens up on Gabriella Smith, a young high school senior who is put up at a boarding school. Spending the majority of life, after the death of her mother, moving from house to house and city to city with her father; it is the first chance she has ever had to both complete a full school year and, more importantly, feel normal at least one time before going to college.

     Gabriella, or Elle, is plagued by a reoccurring nightmare that she can never fully remember. To make matters worse, a sense of being followed and watched plagues her everyday life. These feelings are brought to a new level when a young man she meets at a flea market suddenly shows up at her school and begins adjusting his course schedule in order to align all his courses with hers. This young youth is Brian, who quickly becomes both a potential threat, and a love interest.

     At this point in the story, which is still incredibly early on, you begin to both piece together and become lost in Elle's peril. Reports of an alleged serial killer stalking the area near the boarding school, coupled with Brian appearing when the feelings of being watched and pursued overtake Elle and threaten to push her sanity over the edge.

     Its when the true killer reveals himself that Elle realizes just who she can trust. The only question is, can she trust herself to escape and keep herself, and her friends, alive?

     Lindsey does a wonderful job putting together a YA story that transcends its intended genre completely. While the story is written from the perspective of a high school senior, the character of Elle reads much older, though not in an unbelievable way. With such an adult character, you get a story that is enjoyable for the young adult and adult thriller fans alike.

What I liked:

  • As I just mentioned, the character of Elle reads much older. This gives her an emotional availability that her "younger" classmates lack. Even the swiftness she falls for Brian gives her a 'real' quality I connected with. 
  • Though this story is categorized as a YA thriller, there is a mysterious element to it. For much of the story you are left wondering, just who you can trust and who you can't. Lindsey does a great job bringing to focus possible 'troublemakers', while building back your trust in a character you may have begun to doubt. 
  • The characters Deceived are as varied as you could hope. Many times authors have difficulties with the personalities of their characters, but not Lindsey. Each character has a unique personality that is recognizable and relatable whether they're a hormonal lacrosse player, artistic social butterfly, or even just have a small appearance here or there. 
     In the end Deceived gives you exactly what you want when you pick up a new book; a good read that keeps your attention throughout. Combining a great mystery with constant twists and turns, with thrilling content and a truly ageless appeal becomes sheer perfection. If you are a fan of sitting on the edge of your seat while losing yourself in finding out just who that shadowy figure is, then I highly recommend picking this book up. 

Overall I'm going to give Deceived by Julie Anne Lindsey a 9/10 based on:

     8/10 for readability - Though this scores the lowest out of my categories, don't think its a bad thing. The story is long, but moves at a comfortable pace. It becomes hard to put down early on as each scene leads quickly into the next. The only thing I can say is that there are a few times when the story moves a little too fast, and a slower pace would be welcome. 

     10/10 for characters - I really cannot rave enough about the characters in this story. Each character, both main and ancillary, is unique and memorable. You get a strong sense of who they are and where they're from. This also assists in the mystery aspect of this story, giving you a connection with the characters that make you sit and hope your favorite isn't a brutal killer inside. 

     9/10 for story - Thriller meets mystery is the best way to describe the story. Each page turn brings you closer to finding out who the killer is and what he/she wants. At the same time you are bombarded with small details that threaten to send you in a different direction, enhancing the story exponentially. 

*X-factor - For followers of my review I typically pick out the most memorable part of a story. I'm going to continue this trend, but I'm no longer giving it a rating to factor into the overall score. 

     X-factor - The thing for me that sets this story apart is the character of Gabriella. As far as heroin's go she offers more depth than you would expect from a typical YA story. With both the naive nature of a young adult, and the worldliness of an adult, Elle makes this story exactly what it is; a wonderful read. 

     A thank you goes out to author Julie Anne Lindsey for the opportunity to read and review her title Deceived. Being a thriller fan I was a little worried that a YA thriller would be to young for me, but I'm very happy to have had my fears put to rest by this wonderful story. 

To pick up a copy of Deceived, click here