Deadly Ruse, by E. Michael Helms
Maybe this guy actually can write. His letter was significantly better written than his book, and much more entertaining.
I'm writing to explain a few things and ask a few questions of you.
Let's start off by saying I'm sorry you didn't like my book. It is upsetting to know you really hated it. I can understand that not everyone is going to like it or appreciate the characters and story. That being said, you went about attacking both the book and me personally. The latter is very unprofessional of you. You don't like the book, fine, but to throw in such comments as: "Tozer had no understanding of how real people think and act. Has he never been to Starbucks, work, or even a Walmart? This book probably would have been a lot better if he had picked up a psychology book." These are just from the beginning; you went on to relate more. Where is your professionalism?
You are the first reviewer/reader who's said the characters are lacking.
I find it hard to believe that you don't find the dialogue realistic. You are, admittedly, a teenager, and the dialogue between youth and adults completely differs. I'm sorry I didn't have my characters talking about the Kardashians or other "hot" topics. You wrote you couldn't keep track of the characters-no one else who's read the book had trouble keeping track of them (See what a personal attack feels like? Not nice or professional is it?-so I'll say sorry, but I wanted to illustrate how I felt while reading your comments).
I'd like to address your "biggest problem" - Spencer. Your review is incorrect on a few things. Not everyone agrees with Spencer as evidenced by the split in camp politics. And not everyone bows down to him like you suggest. He's kept everyone alive and thriving in a world that has lost hope and is beaten down by a merciless enemy.
No one said that he is "awesome". He's a former assassin. He's not meant to be liked, ala "Harry Potter". He excels at killing and has no social skills. He's not supposed to have social skills as per his choice of occupation. Most everyone else in the book also have poor social skills because the title dictates what the book is about. The Dead, as all intelligent readers would have surmised, is not referring to the walking corpses on the outside of the fence but the broken and "dead", living survivors on the inside. They all are screwed up in some way or another. So of course they're not going to have the best social etiquette.
You mentioned that he would not "inspire extreme loyalty anywhere". I beg to differ. You head on over to a warzone in Afghanistan or anywhere where ISIS flourishes. While the bullets are flying around you, you spot someone that not only survives running through hails of bullets time and again, but pulls your ass along and saves you as well. I'm thinking you'll be loyal to him no matter what he did before or how socially retarded he is. Why? Because you said you can shoot too. You may be able to shoot, but can you hit what you're aiming at when bullets (or zombies) are inching ever closer to you-when you're running and aiming at a moving target? Unless you've been in the military for years, I highly doubt it. Spencer (and his coldness) has saved everyone at their camp dozens of times over. Gained the camp: vehicles, food, medicine, and a chance to live another day. This is why people "bow down" to him. He doesn't have to be "likeable"-he's in dire need by the community. I'd also like to know why you think he's not "intelligent". The man saves lives, plans assaults, and knows enough about how people think to not spill his former occupation. Where is his lack of intelligence? Because he doesn't have social graces? He doesn't need them. He wants to be alone, remember? His plan was for him and Lexi to take off from the group at their convenience. Only his character grew some emotions and maturity along the way. One dimensional character writing? I don't think so.
Regarding Lexi as being "...only one desire is to be with him and make him happy"-Did you not read the book? Lexi has a personality dysfunction because of how she was brought up. I'm sorry to say, I've met a couple of Lexi's in the real world. They want to be fathered, to be protected from the world. They live to find some sort of peace and normalcy that is of their own creation and thus different than what people would call "normal" (like latching onto someone who makes them feel safe and secure in the world).
I watched a young singer perform last night. The TV station kept showing the crowd. There were at least twenty young women crying and reaching for him, with one almost fainting. If he allowed any of them to come backstage for sex, I doubt there would be one refusal. Why? Because he can sing a tune? He's good-looking, of course, which wouldn't hurt (I'd like to see if those same women would act that way had he been butt-ugly). Spencer is in that kind of league. He’s strong, good-looking, protects people, and provides some sort of comfort in a world where men are fast becoming a rare commodity. So, the good-looking ones are going to have a lot of women just jumping for the chance to be with him. Yes, it's sad, but looking at those women in the audience I can say with authority that my writing on that front is believable. I can also say that some women will throw themselves at a married man or men with girlfriends for validation of their beauty or some twisted desire to have something/someone that belongs to another. Again, sad but true.
I'll also inform you that many of the people in my book have real life counterparts. Their actions or how they think, act, and talk are true to the nature of these characters. Of course there have been some fictionalized additions to most of them, but the basic characters are from reality.
Morgan, you are young and inexperienced with the many different characters and personalities reality has to offer. You probably have a select group of friends that act similar to you and you don't have time to get to know or understand the other varied colourful personalities this world has to offer. I get that you didn't like the book. That's okay. I don't have a problem with that and actually respect it. However, your comments that personally attack me not only as a writer but as an intelligent person? ... That goes too far.
In summary: If you want to go anywhere as a reviewer, you have to learn to review with some sort of respect to the authors. It's okay to give a bad review, but to outright trash someone goes beyond reviewing. And how is it that I have John Russo (look him up if you don't know of him), one of the zombie genre fathers; and Joe McKinney, the Stephen King of zombie writers, not only read but like my book with Joe giving me a standout review (check it on the second page of my website). These are established and respected authors (I didn't pay them, nor are they my friends). So how can it be as poor as you've related? Surely they wouldn't have put their names and reputations on the line by associating with my book if it were that terrible. Had the book been rife with: run-on sentences, bad grammar, incorrect verbiage, atrocious spelling, or sentence structure, your personal attack about my writing and intelligence might have been justified (btw, I've had the book edited by two different professional editors-so if you've found any of those legitimate problems within the book, please let me know so I can go after a partial refund from my editors.
The bad review of my book = disappointing. The trashing and wordy abuse regarding myself as a writer and my intelligence = loss of respect for the so called reviewer.
PS: Also, why would you want to feature my interview if you hated the book that much?
I look forward to hearing your reply.
This is Robert Tozer's first novel. He graduated from the school of hard knocks, has written award winning fiction in his mind, and was not responsible for the viral outbreak which has decimated the planet. He lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Along with other the survivors, he plans on acquiring a caravan of RVs and relocating to a different clime in order to escape the bloodthirsty zombie hordes.
The world is at the mercy of the dead, and the dead have no mercy.
Time has run out for the human race. A virus has decimated the planet, returning the dead back to life. Groups of displaced people gather together and roam the countryside searching for a sanctuary. But what happens when the living dead aren't the biggest threat to their survival? What happens when the living people are actually The Dead ?
Spencer has a singular goal: Travel with his companion, Lexi, to the west coast, find a seaworthy boat, and sail away to a tropical island—hopefully, without any of the dead occupying it. Along the way, the two of them get conscripted into a ragtag band of survivors, and together they travel across America with conflicting goals. Half the camp wants to travel city to city, liberating any survivors and ridding the US of the menace that is the dead; the other half wants to escape, finding a safe haven away from the killing and horror. A political power struggle is created and Spencer is forced to choose sides; but will he lead the group to safety or will he return to his original plan and abandon the camp to strike out with Lexi once again? Spencer battles against his nature as he leads a fighting force into a small city for life saving supplies. But in this new world, the hungry and murderous dead aren’t the only things to be feared. Sometimes the biggest threat to humanity’s survival is the living.
The Dead by Robert Tozer started off promisingly, but quickly went downhill. I have to say that the prologue was the best part. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was the only good part.
The prologue, although a bit dry, was really good. Tozer started by describing how the epidemic started as a normal virus, which then spread throughout the world before mutating into the zombie virus. Part of the reason that I felt this segment was so good is that I read it during the time when the Ebola panic was just starting in the U.S. It kinda freaked me out, because almost the exact same circumstances Tozer described were happening all over the news. It had me all set to sit back and enjoy the rest of The Dead.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book was nowhere near as good. My excitement plummeted early in the first chapter, which is why I’m only able to give it two stars. I would really like to give it three stars. Unfortunately, six and a quarter pages of goodness just can’t make up for 319 pages of painful dialogue and narration. My eyes are threatening to glaze over just thinking about it.
You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Read it and you’ll see that the dialogue and characterization were extremely lacking. Every conversation fell flat. I kept catching myself saying, “Nobody talks like that.” It was like Tozer had no understanding of how real people think and act. Has he never been to Starbucks, work, or even a Walmart? This book probably would have been a lot better if he had picked up a psychology book, attended a lecture, or just taken a moment to observe real people before attempting dialog and characterization. Character after character came across as one dimensional, and there were so many of them that it turned into a big bowl of character soup. I legitly resorted to making a cheat sheet in my notebook just to keep track of them all while I was reading. It didn’t help.
Dialog and persons in The Dead, although tedious, was not the worst of it. My biggest problem, was Spencer, the protagonist and main character. He’s written like some teenage boy’s fantasy of his grownup self. Everybody bows down to him and worships the ground he walks on. Women all but literally throw themselves at him. His totally hot girlfriend’s one and only desire is to be with him, and make him happy. He’s Rambo tough, and an amazing military strategist. But, the thing is, he’s not actually that awesome. Sure he can shoot stuff, but so can I. He’s doesn’t come across as very intelligent. He has horrible social skills (like everyone in the book). He’s not nice, or even a little bit likeable. Overall, he’s not someone who would inspire extreme loyalty anywhere except inside the author’s fantasies.
Just to be fair, The Dead wasn’t all dry sentences, clumsy wording, and flimsy characters. It had its good points. The imagery was AMAZING. Tozer describes scenes and settings in such detail that it’s almost like watching a miniature movie. I really enjoyed that. It’s too bad the rest of his writing fell so flat, because I really wanted to like this book.
So to sum it up: Prologue = good, rest of the book = suckish.
The inhabitants of the camp were just lighting the bonfires when Spencer returned. Tom, the leader of the group, leaned forward, his lawn chair creaking under him. He‟d watched Spencer‟s slow progress from his position atop an RV, and he gave a short whistle, signaling the sentry below to unlock the gate. Spencer quickly glanced up at Tom but avoided his questioning gaze. Tom stared down eagerly at Spencer, his large, pudgy frame leaning precariously over the edge of the roof. The balding crown of his head was sweating profusely in the heat and reflected the setting sun brilliantly, creating a halo.
Impatient for news, he yelled, “Any luck?” His broad, genuine and friendly, pale blue eyes normally made people feel at ease, but his expression now made Spencer feel miserable. He stopped for a second before continuing to stride into the camp, and his silence was all the reply Tom needed. The mission had been a washout. “Well, the least he could do is say hello,” he muttered.
Tom was used to Spencer‟s silence, but the recent increase in dead gathering around the camp, along with their shortage of supplies, had his nerves on edge, and small things like impoliteness bothered him. Nonetheless, Tom was grateful for Spencer‟s efforts and shrewdness. At thirty-nine, Spencer was not only a cunning strategist, he was a master of hand-to-hand combat and was proficient with numerous weapons. He reminded himself that Spencer‟s plan of attack had led to an overwhelmingly successful raid on a large town entrenched with the dead. Even vastly outnumbered, Spencer and his team had managed to gather enough RVs to create a traveling caravan that had, to date, kept the camp safe. Spencer had also engineered countless other successful raids during their travels, though, when he had been asked to lead the group, he had declined without explanation. Tom had been asked next, mainly because he was among those closest to Spencer, and the camp expected Spencer would help him out with the tough decisions.
Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)
Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Oregon with their two children, three dogs and a cat. They have co-authored two series, the bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and romantic urban fantasy of The Edge.
When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate's guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta's magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate's guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she's way out of her league—but she wouldn't have it any other way…
Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews is the electrifying first book in the Kate Daniels series. No doubt, this book deserves five stars. I could not put it down. I finished it in just over a day, and devoured the rest of the series within a week. I am now waiting extremely impatiently for Magic Breaks, which is due to be released July 19.
Magic Bites stars Kate Daniels, mercenary for hire. A snarky heroine armed with a bad attitude and a sword that eats undead flesh (gruesome, but cool.) Andrews brings the book to life by imbuing it with witty banter, a cast of relatable, well developed characters, and extremely detailed descriptions, maybe a little too detailed, because at times the book becomes a little morbid, often bordering on gruesome.
I loooooove the way the vampires are written! It is completely original! Instead of being your ordinary, run of the mill, sparkly, fanged freaks, vampires in Kate’s world are basically non-rotting zombies controlled by highly-trained necromancers, also known as Masters of the Dead.
My only complaint with Magic Bites is that the concept of magic/tech shifts and residual magic is a little confusing, and isn’t really explained at all. I also had a couple questions that were never answered, stuff that is not important to the plot, but kinda bugs me. Like, how does an M-scan work? Why did Olathe call Curran a half-breed? And how did the vampire that attacked them suddenly grow shoulder spikes?
I love the fact that Magic Bites was not all about the guy. There no insta-love whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong, Andrews definitely sets up a love interest, and if you squint you can see a second one, but the earth doesn’t revolve around it like in many books.
As a recap, I am absolutely, positively, hooked on both the Kate Daniels series and its author Ilona Andrews. As soon as I finished this series I went out and read as many of her books as I could find. The only reason you would want to skip this book is if you have no soul.
The moonlight spilled onto the ruins. Thick, inky darkness pooled in the alcoves and burrows and stretched forth, mingling with light, spawning half-shadows, and blurring the lines between real and illusory. The eerie landscape appeared false, as if the ruined buildings had vanished, leaving behind treacherous shadows of their former selves. Ahead in the depths of Unicorn Lane something howled, giving voice to a tortured soul. My heart skipped a beat.
Someone or something watched me from the darkness. I felt their stare press upon me like a physical burden. Moments dragged by, with minutes in tow. After a while I glanced at my watch. It had stopped.
Somewhere in the darkness the Beast Lord prowled. I didn't know what he looked like. I didn't know the species of his beast. Few people outside of the Pack claimed to have met him and nobody seemed willing to discuss the experience. The only thing certain about him was power. By the latest count, he commanded a force of three hundred and thirty-seven shapechangers in Atlanta alone. He wasn't in charge because he was the smartest or the most popular; he ruled because of those three hundred and thirty-seven he was unquestionably the strongest. He was in charge by the right of might; that is, he had yet to meet anyone who could kick his ass.
Title: Deadly Catch
Author: E. Michael Helms
Series: Mac McClellan Mysteries (#1)
Date Published: November 12, 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars
E. Michael Helms is a USMC combat veteran. His memoir of the Vietnam War, "The Proud Bastards," has been called "As powerful and compelling a battlefield memoir as any ever written . . . a modern military classic," and has been in print for over 20 years.
His work has also appeared in the books: Semper Fi: Stories of U.S. Marines from Boot Camp to Battle (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003); Soldier's Heart: Survivors' Views of Combat Trauma (The Sidran Press, 1995); and Two Score and Ten: The Third Marine Division History (Turner Publishing, 1992).
Book One of his two-part saga of the Civil War, "Of Blood and Brothers," was released in September 2013, with Book Two following in March 2014. The first of his Mac McClellan Mysteries, "Deadly Catch," was published in November 2013. "Deadly Ruse," the second in the series, is scheduled for release November 2014. "The Private War of Corporal Henson," a semi-autobiographical fictional sequel to his memoir, "The Proud Bastards," is due out August 2014.
Helms lives with his wife in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Upstate region of South Carolina, where they enjoy canoeing, hiking and bird watching.
“The first cast of the day turned my dream vacation into a nightmare. . . .”
After twenty-four years in the U.S. Marines, recently retired Mac McClellan is happy to be a civilian again. He is enjoying a leisurely fishing vacation in the Florida panhandle when he hooks a badly decomposed body.
Then, when a bag of rare marijuana is discovered stashed aboard his rental boat, he realizes someone is setting him up to take the fall for murder and drug smuggling. Mac’s plans for a more laid-back life must be put on hold while he works to clear his name as the number one suspect.
Mac launches an investigation with the help of Kate Bell, a feisty saleslady at the local marina with whom he has struck up a promising relationship. Along the way he must butt heads and match wits with local law enforcement officials, shady politicians, and strong-armed thugs from the Eastern Seaboard to sniff out and bring the real smuggler and killer to justice.
First off, sorry I haven’t posted in so long. Finals, spring break, and my dad coming home from Afghanistan have left me little time for writing and reading. This month’s book is Deadly Catch: A Mac McClellan Mystery by E. Michael Helms. I give it four stars because allthough it was suspenseful, intriguing, and well written, it just didn’t drag me in. This is probably because, as a teenage girl, I'm not exactly its target audience. It was definitely written for an adult audience, not because it’s steamy or anything, but because of the attitudes of the characters and the voice it’s written in.
Like I said, Deadly Catch was extremely well written, the plot was solid with no holes or random weird things thrown in, and unlike most of the books I’ve read recently, the author actually knew how to spell and use punctuation. (You seriously have no idea how big of a deal this is!) One thing I did not like about the book was that it seemed to lack obvious subplots. Which I happen to LOVE in my reading. The characters lacked depth. They all started out solidly with a good base, but didn’t develop throughout the course of the story. Surprisingly, the character I felt had the most depth and development was Marilyn Harper, a side character. Finally, the ending was a little abrupt. I really would’ve liked an epilogue. All these personal things aside, the book was good, really good.
Although it is a good read, I don’t think a teenaged girl is the target audience for this book. Mac, the main character, tends to use slang that I don’t understand, probably because of the generation gap, which wasn’t a big problem, just confusing. Some of the stranger ones I saw were “slinger” and “wired AC/DC”. My parents are currently debating whether this is referring to an 80’s rock band or an electrical current. There were also plenty of areas in the book that I didn’t connect with such as the time the main character was going to go swimming after a seven dollar fishing lure. Really? For seven dollars, I’d just buy a new one and avoid getting wet.
In conclusion, while not my cup of tea, Deadly Catch was a well written, well thought out book and most of my complaints with it seem to stem from the fact that I’m really in the wrong demographic to enjoy it properly. It would probably better appeal to an audience that’s more like my dad or grandpa. Actually, my dad did start reading it and is extremely excited to finish it.
I covered my mouth and nose with my free hand and kept going, breathing as little and shallow as possible. Just a few feet from my objective I lifted the line out of the water and gave it a light pull. Five feet away, the surface exploded. Hundreds of small fish and blue crabs darted and scurried in every direction. I tripped backward and nearly went under before I somehow regained my footing. My heart was racing, and despite the foul air I grabbed several deep breaths to calm myself. Then I saw it—my lure, embedded in the bleached-white underbelly of a large fish sticking halfway out of the grass.
“You chickenshit,” I muttered, glad no fishing buddies were along to witness my brave reaction to a bunch of scavengers feasting on a dead fish. I turned my head and took another deep breath and covered the few remaining feet as fast as possible. Pulling the line tight, I reached for the lure. My hand froze in midair and I stumbled back again, heart pounding. Christ on a crutch, this was no dead fish! It was a leg—a human leg!
Author: C. Miller
Series: Reave (book # 1)
Date Published: Dec. 4, 2013
Rating: 4/5 stars
C. Miller lives in Kentucky with her husband, a Weimaraner that is very suitably named Pig, and a fluffy cat named Poo that gets accented voiceovers periodically throughout the day. She spends most her time taking solitary trips to Writer Land. If she isn’t there, you can usually find her playing video games with her husband or staring off blankly into space while contemplating over what to do during her next trip.
How far would you go to be free—to make your own choices without being subjected to punishment for doing what you felt was right?
Could you kill for it?
After being abandoned by her father as a child, Aster spent ten years of her life as a servant for the leader’s House in the broken city of New Bethel. She’d known, even as a child, that the cities of her world were corrupt places with human monsters—assassins—running rampant between their high walls.
Thinking everything will remain the same as it always has there, Aster is startled to discover that one day . . . the cycle breaks. As a young new leader takes a strange and—at times—horrifying interest in her, will she be capable of discovering the reasons behind his actions and orders?
In a world where nothing is as it seems and all things are never anywhere near as simple as they appear at first glance, will she be capable of making the distinction between what is real and what is not? Will she find anyone at all she can trust? More importantly . . . Does she have the strength to do what is necessary to survive in a world filled with evil?
This month I’m reviewing Reave, C. Miller’s debut novel. I give it four stars. Miller writes in active voice, which I really liked. Reave had a great plot and subplot, with all sorts of Easter egg clues hidden that when everything is added up at the end, suddenly make perfect sense, but I was less enthralled with the characters. I kept finding myself stopping to scratch my head and wonder “huh?”, “seriously?” and “What’s wrong with them?”
My favorite character was Aggie, even though she wasn’t a main character. Aggie was crucial to the protagonist, Aster’s, character development as her surrogate mother. She did everything she could to protect Aster, even though her advice was always really bad and led to Aster becoming a bit of a man-hater which definitely added to the drama ‘cause she had this boyfriend and she also had these dude issues and was constantly freaking out. Really, Aster seemed slightly bi-polar. At times she was made of steel and snark, but at others the only way I can think of to describe her is as a frightened little rabbit with no mind of her own. I didn’t like that for someone supposedly so cynical, intelligent, and observant Aster was ignorant and clueless. Honestly, she just seemed retarded most of the time. Add in Chase, the big bad assassin who cries ALL the time, and enough said about the characters.
While I do like Miller’s active writing style, she very rarely gives descriptions making it extremely hard to picture what’s going on. Despite all of that, I really did enjoy Reave and will keep an eye out for the next book in the series. You should totally go out and read it.
The world, with wretched cities filled with evil people, was not made for happiness. I always heard stories about those cities when I was young. Once, before my father disappeared, he took me close enough to see one of them, but only just.
Author: Lacy Yager
Series: Unholy Alliance (book #2.1)
Rating: 3/5 stars
Lacy Yager married her college sweetheart and became Lacy Williams. She also writes Inspirational romance under her married name. During high school, Lacy completed the course WRITING FOR CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS from the Institute of Children’s Literature. After she graduated college, Lacy got serious about her writing career and joined the American Christian Fiction Writers. When presented with the opportunity to write mainstream YA with her younger sister, Lacy couldn’t say no.
Her destiny. His determination.
Born a fifth generation vampire Chaser, seventeen-year-old Emily Santos wants nothing more than to join the family business. But Emily's mother refuses, so Emily must channel her aggression into her martial arts training.
Black belt senior Brett Carson has decided it's time to rid himself of his unrequited feelings for Emily. But when he finds himself in the middle of an altercation with Emily and a gang of vampires, he is drawn into a world he never expected. And Brett is hiding a secret of his own...
My review for December was supposed to be this one, Rival by Lacy Yager. It didn’t happen for December, because well it was December, the busiest time of the year, and it was a difficult review for me to write. The reason I had such trouble writing it was because I didn’t dislike it, but at the same time I didn’t love it. I had no strong feelings one way or the other about it, and that made it difficult to review.
The book had a nice little plot and story line, nothing extraordinarily awesome, but still good. I liked the fact that Brett and Emily already knew each other and had a backstory, so no insta-love. (As those of you who have read my other reviews know, I really hate insta-love.) Just so you know, Rival is a novella. Now, I normally shy away from short stories – unless, of course, it was written by Poe – but this one wasn’t bad, and even though I didn’t absolutely, positively, love, love, love it; I don’t feel like it was a waste of my time. Unlike a lot of authors, Yager didn’t shirk on the explanations. I really appreciated the fact that I could just dive right in, without being confused about who the chasers are and how things are run in their world, or have the opposite thing happen and have to delve through pages upon pages of unnecessary backstory filled with things that are completely irrelevant.
Things I did not like about Rival… I had some serious problems with the fact that the ending was really rushed, and entirely too predictable. It was like ‘Okay, I’ve decided that this is over, now let’s box everything up and slap a nice pretty bow on it’. I mean it’s got this great little fight scene, which is awesome, but as soon as it’s over Yager ties up all the loose ends in a few short paragraphs: mother/daughter issues are resolved, the lovebirds confess their feelings for each other, the main character’s lifelong dream is fulfilled…etc. See? Nice pretty bow, and it ends exactly like I knew it would from sentence one.
Despite my dislike of the ending, Rival was a good book. It just didn’t suck me in like I wanted it to. I don’t know why, it might’ve been me, and it might’ve been the book. Either way, I finished it feeling kinda whatever about it. Anyways, here’s an excerpt, enjoy:
Halfway to Emily’s ritzy neighborhood, and I’m still waiting for the police helicopter to shine a light down on us, or a group of squad cars to appear, blocking out way.
But nothing happens.
I’m trying to reconcile everything in my mind. We were leaving the mall, minding out own business, when some guy attacks Emily, and his friends come after Erick and me. Knives are drawn. I saw Erick with one, but was it his? Or did he get it from his opponent? And somehow, our three attackers ended up dead.
Oh, and they seemed to be… superhuman. With fangs.
But shouldn’t we have stayed and talked to the cops? Told our side of the story? How come Erick stayed to take the blame? Why did Emily let him?
All of it whirls through my brain, rushing like the wind against me on the bike. I can’t make sense of any of it.
And still, no cops. Nothing happens at all.
Nothing except Emily clings to me, leaning into every turn like she was born to be on the back of a bike. With me.
Title: Cerulean Seas
Author: Jenn Brink
Series: Jessica Hart (book #2)
Rating: 5/5 stars
With a Master’s degree in Psychological Services and 10 years experience in counseling every aspect of the mental health field, Jenn Brink has heard it all. Now, rather than working with interesting characters, she has decided to create them. Originally from Oklahoma, Jenn is an Army wife and spends a disproportionate amount of time moving and traveling. When given the chance, she likes to relax at her sometimes home
in The Lake Of The Ozarks and work on her photography skills.
To find out more about Jenn and her books visit her website at jennbrink.com
Merely days after her thirtieth birthday, Jessica Hart has been forced by circumstances beyond her control (attempted murder and homelessness) to move back in with her parents and begin the painful process of rebuilding her life, starting with getting a job.
As she endures the rejection of multiple job interviews and her parents irksome attempts to marry her off to the most eligible bachelors in town (meaning unmarried and able to string simple words together to form a sentence) she feels herself sinking into a deep depression.
To top it all off, it’s been three weeks since she’s heard from the ever elusive Eric Wolf. But, she could swear she saw him the other day at the Gas ‘n’ Go. And, who was that strange man built like a rhino on steroids who followed her around the mall last Tuesday?
Just when Jessica can’t take it anymore, her cousin, Barbie O’Grady, invites her on the vacation of a lifetime to Phuket Island. Her parents tell her not to go. Her brother Greg tells her not to go. And, the airport TSAs seem to have banded against her.
Before they know it, the cousins are pursued by strange men, kidnapped, drugged, and stranded in the Jungle by an elephant named Bessie. Now, Jessica and Barbie have questions that need answers before they turn up dead or worse.
Book two is here! Jessie is back, and so is Wolf! This time she’s been let loose on Phucket Island! Cerulean Seas is the second book by Jenn Brink, and the sequel to Black Roses. Have no fear; the sequel is just as as good as, maybe even better than, Brink’s first novel. It will totally live up to your expectations, and then surpass them.
Although they are part of the same series, the two books are vastly different. Black Roses is dark and sexy, whereas Cerulean Seas is more lighthearted and fun; with a little bit of danger (it’s kind of hard for it to be too dark when Barbie keeps calling all of the bad guys hotties.) By the way, I have a new favorite character, and her name is Barbie! She’s Jessie’s super fun and slutty cousin/best friend, and the cause of many of the mishaps during their vacation. The amount of trouble Jessie gets into is automatically doubled when Barbie is along for the ride!
One thing I didn’t like about Cerulean Seas was that Greg wasn’t around nearly enough. I kept waiting for him to show up, but he didn’t. Also, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the airplane scene was so graphic that it almost made me lose my lunch. It’s good that it’s descriptive and paints a picture, but the making me queasy part is not so good.
All in all, Cerulean Seas was marvelous! I think I am going to die before the next book comes out!!! Don’t avoid this book! Don’t put off reading it! Go out and buy it, NOW!
Here’s an sneak preview, just to add a little awesomeness to your day...
"Jessica", a strange voice whispered my name. I opened my eyes, yawning. Crouched next to me was a petite blonde, wearing a blood red bikini, covered by a gauzy black sarong.
“Do I know you?” I asked her.
“No, but I know you,” she replied.
“Who are you?” I asked, wandering if I could still be dreaming.
“No one of importance,” she answered, with one eye on the surrounding beach. “Listen up, I’ll just be another beach dream if you hand over the jewel. If not,” she gestured to a thinly disguised knife sheathed in the edge of her sarong.
“Not the jewel again,” I groaned. “How many times do I have to tell you people, I don’t know what you’re talking about?” I asked grumpily.
“You want to do this the hard way?” she asked, grabbing my bag and frantically dumping the contents into the sand.
“Give that back!” I screeched.
Dropping the bag into the pile of sunscreen, brushes, lip-gloss, and beach towels, she said, “It’s not here!”
“That’s because I don’t have it!” I yelled.
Grabbing my hair, she yanked me up from the chair, just as Henderson flew out of nowhere, all six feet and two hundred pounds of him. Hair ripped from my scalp as he tackled the strange visitor. In shock, I saw a handful of red hair clutched in her palm. Feeling the back of my head for blood, I quickly stepped away from the scuffle.
Barbie slid up next to me, “I’ve got twenty on the blonde.”
“What?” I asked incredulously.
Barbie shrugged, “She fights dirty.”
I shook my head, “Henderson can take her. He’s a big guy.”
The blonde wriggled out from under Henderson as more spectators surrounded them. Henderson grabbed her by the ankle, just as she started to flee. Jerking her leg from his grasp, she kicked him in the nose.
“That’s got to be broken,” I winced at the sight of Henderson’s blood-stained nose.
Shaking it off, Henderson sprung at her. The crowd stepped back, avoiding the blood decorating the sand. For a moment, the two silent combatants merged into a weirdly shaped creature made of bare legs, arms, and long blonde hair.
It was looking like Henderson was about to win when somebody called out, “Watch out! She’s got a knife!”
Henderson jumped back. The blonde had unsheathed a long, thick knife, with a jagged blade and she was now circling Henderson. Crouching into a fighting stance, Henderson slid a long, smooth blade from his boot. The crowd watched breathlessly as the two combatants circled each other.
The blonde clumsily thrust her knife at Henderson time after time, just to have him dodge it. Frustration began to show on her face, as her victim artfully escaped each calculated lunge.
“My guy’s winning,” I smugly said to Barbie.
“For now,” she granted, but it’s not over yet.
As she spoke, Henderson swept his long leg across the sand, bringing down his victim. Before she could react, he pounced on the tiny woman. In an instant, he had her pinned to the ground. Sweat dripped from his face onto his opponent.
“You owe me twenty bucks,” I crowed happily.
Barbie rolled her eyes and said, “Wait.”
Pinned under the big man, the blonde was cursing in what sounded like three different languages. Henderson called out for someone to call the police while he held the fuming woman in the sand. With his attention diverted, the blonde jerked her hand out of the big man’s grasp. The onlookers gasped loudly as they watched her knife slice up the tendon in his forearm. A moment later, they were shocked into silence at the sight of the blood pouring down from his arm.
Free from his right hand, she smiled before kneeing him in the groin. A groan of empathized pain echoed through the men clustered around. Surprise mixed with pain on Henderson’s face as he briefly fell to one knee. Taking advantage of his injury she rolled away from her opponent. Springing forward, she landed spryly on her feet.
Suddenly, a high pitched whistle pierced the air, signaling the arrival the authorities. The crowd quickly dispersed as the small group of heavily armed men made their way through the throng. A panicked look crossed the blonde’s features. She turned to run, but Henderson grabbed her by the hair, roughly pulling her backwards. A shriek of pain pierced the air as Barbie pulled me to the back of the crowd, leaving Henderson and the blonde at the mercy of the patrol.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I think it’s time for us to leave,” she said, pulling me back towards the resort.
“What about Henderson?” I asked, concern in my voice.
“Don’t worry about him, he’ll be just fine.”
“But,” I protested.
“I don’t think we want to draw any more attention to ourselves,” she reasoned.
“You don’t understand, he was protecting me,” I explained, pulling away from her.
Tightening her grip on my arm, she continued leading me towards the nearby building, “Doesn’t matter. We don’t want to get caught up with the authorities.”
I glanced back, guiltily. “But,”
She shook her head, “Remember what Greg said? Stay out of trouble. That needs to be our new motto, cousin.”
Frowning, I conceded, “I guess you’re right, but I don’t have to like it.”
“Come on, let’s get lunch at that great little place in town and then we’ll go find those handmade dresses the bartender was telling me about,” she said, leading me into the resort.
Conceding, I agreed, “Okay, but I still feel bad about Henderson.”
“He’ll be fine, once he gets that arm looked at. By the way, you owe me twenty bucks.”
Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna Dressed in Blood (book #1)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Kendare Blake is an import from South Korea who was raised in the United States by caucasian parents. You know, that old chestnut. She received a Bachelor's degree in Business from Ithaca College and a Master's degree in Writing from Middlesex University in London. She brakes for animals, the largest of which was a deer, which sadly didn't make it, and the smallest of which was a mouse, which did, but it took forever. Amongst her likes are Greek Mythology, rare red meat and veganism. She also enjoys girls who can think with the boys like Ayn Rand, and boys who scare the morality into people, like Bret Easton Ellis.
If you would like the author to participate in a Q&A, or a writer's workshop, or anything else writing related, contact her via email: kendareblake(at)yahoo.com
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.
Because it’s October, I wanted to review a spookier book, preferably with some kind of ghost, murder, or mystery. Anna Dressed in Blood has all of those things. I give this book five stars all the way! It was even better than I expected it to be, which made me giddy since I was already positive that it would rock before picking it up! The entire book was just fabulous! The plot, characters, imagery, descriptiveness, Anna’s mystery, the spookiness; everything about Anna Dressed in Blood was marvelous!
The plot flowed naturally without any odd gaps or plot holes. The characters were all well developed. You can tell that the author took the time to get into their heads and find out what they’re really like, even the side characters.
The book just sucked me in. You can see everything playing out in your head like a movie, a really, really awesome movie. The entire book, I was wondering what happened to Anna? What was so traumatic that she couldn’t even remember it? It was just spooky enough for me (I’m not a big fan of super scary horror stuff) and got especially creepy towards the end.
The only complaint I have with Anna Dressed in Blood is that after the book was over, I was left with a couple questions that were never answered. But, I won’t tell you what they are because they would give away some very important plot twists.
Here's a little teaser that I picked out from Anna Dressed in Blood, just to get you hooked.
This city smells like smoke and things that rot in the summer. It’s more haunted than I thought it would be, an entire layer of activity just under the dirt: whispers behind peoples’ laughter, or movement that you shouldn’t see in the corner of your eye. Most of them are harmless – sad little cold spots or groans in the dark. Blurry patches of white that only show up in a Polaroid. I have no business with them.
But somewhere out there is one that matters. Somewhere out there is the one that I came for, one who is strong enough to squeeze the breath out of living throats.
I think of her again. Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood. I wonder what tricks she’ll try. I wonder if she’ll be clever. Will she float? Will she laugh or scream?
How will she try to kill me?
Author: Kristopher Norris
Series: The Chronicles of Vincent Black, Vampire Assassin (book #1)
Rating: 3/5 stars
Kristopher Norris currently lives outside Omaha, NE with his beautiful daughter. When asked where he's from he’ll say, "Everywhere." Kristopher was a military brat and spent a great deal of time living and traveling across Europe, mostly within Germany and England. He considers himself lucky to have grown up seeing and experiencing things that others save for years to do. His hope is to one day to show his daughter the amazing places he knew growing up.
Kristopher has been and avid reader and story teller since he was a child. He's been hooked on vampire stories since seeing "Lost Boys" back in the 80s...though, he'll tell you his vampire tastes have improved over the years. Vampires have always been a focus of his writing; however, he has not limited himself to that genre. Paranormal fiction, high fantasy, thrillers, horror, they all have a place in his reading and writing.
Some of His favorite authors include: Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Patricia Briggs, and Terry Goodkind.
For years he has been working part time as a ghost writer but felt it was time to put his own stories out there for the world.
When Vincent Black, a gun for hire, is told vampires are all too real, he thinks it’s a joke. But soon he learns that he is not the most dangerous brand of hunter out there... Vincent is recruited by a secret society, known simply as The Guild, and is rushed off to England. Soon after landing their convoy is attacked and William, Vincent’s recruiter, is taken hostage. Forced to find allies in some of the most unlikely of places, Vincent and his fellow hunters, aren’t stopping until William is returned. Fangs, fur, and bullets are going to fly while Vincent fights to find his place in the world of the paranormal.
BlackJack was a really good book. Although I would love to give it five stars, I have to give it three due to editing and characterization issues. But, the plot was fantastic!!!! Norris has a knack for keeping you guessing until the end. The story had me wondering who the chief baddie was all the way until the final showdown.
Now, I know the whole vampire hunter thing is a little bit overdone, but Norris gives it a whole new twist. And, unlike most vampire books that are cheesy and skin deep, BlackJack actually has plot and hidden depths. I love how Norris uses vampires, werewolves, and hunters to make a point about prejudice without being in your face and preachy.
Like I said in the beginning, this is a great story, but it needs editing. At first it didn’t really bug me. After a while the erratic punctuation, peculiar formatting, and annoying typos became overwhelming. Due to the editing issues, I almost put BlackJack down about halfway through. I only kept going because I was at a good spot in the story and really wanted to know how it ended.
As for characterization... Vincent, the main protagonist, has a well-developed character (overly mentioned daddy issues aside) but everybody else seems to fall a little short in that aspect. The other characters are likable but you really don’t see them as people, just names in the book. They don’t come alive like Vincent does. Carmen especially feels flat. It’s like she’s really just there to add a love interest.
I would love to read the next book in the series; if there are some drastic improvements in the editing department. And, if vampire books are your thing, and you can handle the editing issues, I would recommend that you pick up a copy. As a side note, for those of you who are a little squeamish about such things, there is A LOT of foul language in BlackJack. Some of it seems to be for characterization and some of it just seems to be.
Once outside Goodspeed pulled out two of his pistols. “This is gonna get weird.” I pulled out my Glocks. One loaded with my own ammo, the other with Terry’s. We walked about ten feet away from the door. I was wondering what we were out here to shoot, when the door we’d just came out of flew open. Goodspeed and I both had our guns pointed at whatever was coming out of that door. Out stepped the waitress that Goodspeed had talked to followed by a fat biker. He wasn’t just big this guy was fat. I’d seen him sitting by one of the stages. I didn’t like the feeling of this guy. I couldn’t explain why but something was off, it was that same feeling I get down inside when I meet people. But with this guy it almost seemed physical; I could feel it inside me. I didn’t care to even look at him. He was dirty and he stank, the only way he could get a girl to touch him was with payment. Good thing he lives in Nevada. He was startled to see the two of us out there already. His eyes darted between our guns and us. “What?” his voice was raspy and rough. “You two her fucking pimps?” “Na.” Goodspeed let off a shot taking him in the gut. The biker doubled over in pain. Still holding his stomach his head quickly raised glaring at Goodspeed. “Silver! You’ve got fucking silver?!” When he spoke I saw what they wanted me to see, fangs. He began to charge Goodspeed. It was a dumb thing to do. We both lit him up, the four guns blazing. He was fast, amazingly fast. He finally dropped at our feet, good thing too our guns had clicked empty. Once he lay still on the ground Goodspeed pulled out another magazine slid it into place, then emptied all the shots into the vampire’s heart. By the time Terry was done I could see the cement stained red with blood through the hole in his back. “This is where it gets weird,” Goodspeed said as he stepped back. This is where it gets weird? And I thought that the fangs were the weird part. Nearly at once the body started to make a high pitched sizzling sound then ignited into flames. It only took a few seconds for the body to turn to ash and blow away in the wind. Nothing was left even the blood stains had burned away. Yep, it just got weird. I’ve seen some crazy shit in my time but that was new. Suddenly I believed in vampires.