Sunday, September 29, 2013

Featuring Kristy Berridge - Part 1

       Hi, folks. My favorite thing about having this blog is talking about books and authors that I like, and I’ve been looking forward to featuring this particular author for a while now. During the next two weeks I’ll focus on Kristy Berridge, the Wonder from Down Under. This week we’ll look at her books. Next week we’ll have an interview!
                                             Kristy Berridge, The Wonder from Down Under
Although Ms. Berridge is in the process of publishing an interesting crowd-funded side project called Diary of a Teenage Zombie, her main body of work to-date encompasses The Hunted books. There are already two of the eventual five novels out in this paranormal fantasy/horror series which chronicles the coming of age of the vampire-werewolf hybrid Elena Manory.

I’m a fan. Let’s get to it.

The Hunted
                                                                  At Amazon.com
 
Description
Elena Manory is by no means an ordinary teenage girl. Being born with the ability to heal herself from any injury, and with the knowledge that on her eighteenth birthday she will become a Vampire, Elena is aware that she is more than a little different from other girls her age.
It isn’t until she meets William Granville, an alluring and impossibly handsome vampire, that she begins to question her destiny and what secrets the Institute of Magical Intervention and her adopted family have withheld—secrets that could change the fates of not only her own life, but of the lives of all the immortals.
As events spiral out of control, William may be the only person Elena can place her trust in. He, and Elena’s magical family, must fight to save her, joining forces to defeat a common, deadly foe. For William, it is his chance to save the girl that he has searched eternity to find.

My Review (from March, 2012)
I became aware of this author through several Facebook groups, where her posts caught my attention as occasionally witty. I likewise found her blog posts enjoyable, but was hesitant to purchase this paperback because of the hefty price tag. I couldn't bring myself to pay over $18, but I jumped at the chance to get it for half that when it finally became available for Kindle.
  I wasn't disappointed. Berridge has created an interesting universe with some unique twists on the origins, traits, and capabilities of her vampires and werewolves. The book is generally well-written. It was easy to immerse myself in nearly every scene, and there is lots of action. By the time I was two-thirds through the book, I found myself unable to put it down - one of those I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish.
  Several things prevented me from giving it five stars, however. I did not find the main character particularly likeable, nor the inevitably hunky vampire love interest. And the propensity for Berridge to dump pages of backstory upon the reader at inconvenient times also put me off. The preface and the first chapter contain enough background information to spread over several novels, and Berridge chooses to reveal much of it while her character muses between steps as she stalks two werewolves in the opening scene, which effectively kills the suspense.
  Despite those few drawbacks, The Hunted was a good read and I plan to read the next in the series, at the right price. My rating? Four stars.
 
The Damned

                                                               At Amazon.com
Description
Life for Elena Manory skipped past ordinary just over a month ago. Discovering she was born a practically invulnerable vampire-werewolf hybrid was shocking enough; but she’s also become a target, hunted by an Alpha werewolf known as Roshan, who’s fixated on the properties of her unique blood and the pleasurable possibilities of her flesh.
Moving to the Institute of Magical Intervention in Romania was supposed to provide her with protection and anonymity, but Elena soon realises her enemies are legion. No one is who they seem, no agenda truly without nefarious intentions.
A strange twist of fate and the actions of a vampire previously pressing for her affections lead Elena into the arms of another—one whose middle name spells trouble.
Himself a vampire, Sebastian is handsome, arrogant, and perplexingly familiar. He introduces Elena to a world she never thought possible, uncovers a past believed buried, and unearths a future she may not survive.

My Review (August, 2013)
I lost patience somewhere over the 16 months I had to wait for this sequel to The Hunted to be ready for my Kindle. And now it’s even worse, because now I have no idea how long it will be before the third book is available and I can find out how Elena’s going to get herself out of… Oh, wait. No spoilers here!
The Damned is a great second offering in this series. It starts with the introduction of a new villain and a brief warm-up/update of what’s been going on since the last book, then takes off with non-stop action until the final page. Elena has matured some over the last few months, but not enough to keep her out of immediate trouble as she tries to keep her family safe by leaving home and placing herself in the custody of the Protectors in Bucharest.
“Custody’ turns out to be the operative word, because she soon realizes that, instead of being protected, she is actually a prisoner. She manages to exacerbate the situation by alienating almost everyone with her snarky attitude and sarcastic comments. To make things worse, everyone is out for her blood… literally.
I was intrigued with how the story expanded in this book, in which more of the secret of Elena’s origins are revealed and some older, more powerful characters are introduced. Of course, there are more gorgeous, hunky male vampires (a necessary evil in these types of novels, I suppose) to create plenty of sexual tension, which makes for nice reading but emerges as a theme I’m sure will be more explored as Elena approaches her eighteenth birthday, where I bet the excrement will really hit the fan.
My rating: five stars.
 
So there you have it. I highly recommend you immerse yourself in this series, after which we’ll be able to share our frustrations about having to wait for the rest of the books to come out! And if you’ve already read them feel free to commiserate with me in a comment below.

Next week I’ll have an interview with Kristy. In the meantime, you can find out more about her and her work by following the links below…
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A note about my five-star rating system:
 This is a great book. Reading it will enrich your life.
I really liked it. I’d recommend it to anyone.
I liked it. I can't recommend it due to some major flaw.
You won’t see this rating. It’s not worth the time.
It’s bad. You need to be warned.

See y’all next week. Until then, Happy Reading!

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My Books
The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                            in Paperback     
ebook for Nook                                              in Charlotte                    
ebook for Kobo                                              Smashwords

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------


Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                                                   in Paperback
ebook for Nook                                                                     in Charlotte
ebook for Kobo                                                                     Smashwords

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Deadlines - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


Hi, folks. It’s time for one of my musings.
No, no, wait. Hear me out. I promise I’ll be brief.

You see, I’ve been working under a deadline lately, one that has become increasingly evident that I won’t make (unless I’m willing to greatly sacrifice the quality of my work, which I’m not). It was a self-imposed deadline, and I feel bad about it. I’ve disappointed myself and my readers. Mostly, I just don’t have anyone else to blame.
So, I had to give this some thought. What is a deadline, anyway?

The Good

A deadline can be a good thing. We all need goals, right? At least that’s what the experts say. A deadline can serve as motivation to achieve something we long for. Maybe even something that’s good for us.

And for those of us who are born slackers (yes, I did say us), if we didn’t set a date nothing would get done.

The Bad

This is the easy part. The guy that coined the phrase put two very powerful words together, and one of them is dead. There’s really no need to elaborate.

But I will…

The other word is line, which bears some discussion. A line is an imaginary human construct, something that separates one thing from another. We draw them on maps to show political boundaries. We draw them on fields for sports events. We see them, but they aren’t real.

It looks like you could stand on some of those lines. You know, kind of place yourself in the middle of the line so that you’re not on one side or the other. You can’t. That’s a fence. You can sit on a fence, you can only cross a line.
A line is a boundary. There’s a goal line between points and no points. There’s a sideline between being on the field and off. There’s a deadline between… (gulp).

The Ugly

Many of us have worked under deadlines. That’s normal, right? Your boss gives you a deadline for getting the report done or a contract completed. It might even be unrealistic and it could mean your job if you don’t meet it. But that’s your boss. He’s an asshole anyway. He’s The Man. We all have to deal with The Man. That’s life.

But, why would anyone impose a deadline on themselves? Why would someone delineate for themselves a boundary between life and death? That’s sick.

In fact, I’m done with deadlines. I’m taking the word out of my vocabulary. What word? I forgot it already.

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There! I’m glad I got that off my chest. I feel so free!
And, by the way, I’ve removed my previously announced deadline of having Red Wolf Rising finished by the end of the year. I’m going to take my time and make sure the story is written right. It’ll probably be sometime in 2014.

I’m thinking Spring… ish.

See y’all next week. Until then, Happy Reading!
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My Books
The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                            in Paperback     
ebook for Nook                                              in Charlotte                    
ebook for Kobo                                              Smashwords

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------


Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                                                   in Paperback
ebook for Nook                                                                     in Charlotte
ebook for Kobo                                                                     Smashwords

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Review: The Legacy of Daddy


Hi, folks. It’s time for another book review, and this time I’m stepping outside my genre to review some science fiction. I’ve been a sci-fi fan since I was a little kid, and elements of it creep into my paranormal fantasies. (Clifford Crane is a genetically engineered werewolf, in case you hadn’t figured it out, yet.) So, when I saw Angus H. Day’s The Legacy of Daddy reviewed on another blogger’s site, I couldn’t help myself. I had to check it out.

The Legacy of Daddy is the first of the Next You novels, of which there are currently five. Mr. Day has cleverly created a future dystopia in which an over-crowded Earth and the planets it has begun to colonize are at the mercy of a multi-national-planet corporation called Next You, which has effectively gained a monopoly on nanotechnology and its interface with newly discovered and more advanced alien technologies.

The Legacy of Daddy is a delightful story, and the writing of Mr. Day is fast and furious. Let’s take a look.
                                                                The Legacy of Daddy
 
Description ----------------------------------------

From Amazon:
What happens when a Graduate student competes for a PhD in a dystopian society by experimenting with dangerous alien technology? Does humankind need technological help to leave Earth? These and other questions are awkwardly dealt with in The Legacy of Daddy.

From Me (since the above warrants elaboration):
Robert Focsile is a technologically competent and socially incompetent graduate student living in one of the domed city states that have sprung up on Earth following a devastating genocidal world war. Trying to earn his PhD, and thus raise himself to a higher level in the caste-driven society into which he’s been born, he experiments with an alien technology and suddenly finds his mind and body inhabited with nanites resurrected from an ancient alien being.
Guided, often against his will, by the alien presence within, he rises in the ranks to become CEO of the giant technology conglomerate, Next You. The world, nay, the universe, will never be the same.

My Review --------------------------------------------------

I found myself conflicted in rating and writing a review of this book and probably wouldn’t have had I not announced ahead of time on my blog that I was doing it. This is a great story with a five-star premise, funny and sarcastic characters, and written in a compelling style at a manic pace. I was drawn into Mr. Day’s dystopian future completely from page one, eager to read more and more.

The protagonist and supporting cast are at least four-star characters. They aren’t particularly deep or well-developed, but they don’t need to be. This book is all story and pace, and none of the characters take themselves too seriously.

I’ll give the author an extra technical star, too. The Kindle version takes advantage of hyperlinks, so you can jump easily back and forth from the chapters to the table of contents. This is a nice touch, one I wish every author would employ.

But the book has some major flaws, all of which could be remedied by employing a bit of editing. Mr. Day shifts point of view and tense often, regularly in the same paragraph and sometimes in the same sentence. Punctuation is erroneous, inconsistent, or abandoned altogether. Sentences are run together without capitalization, periods, or commas to separate them. It is particularly distressing in scenes where characters are talking to themselves, communicating telepathically with others, and having out-loud conversations at the same time, scenes which otherwise could be delightful.

Thinking this was a condition that might have occurred in the kindle edition of Legacy of Daddy only, I peeked into the first chapters of several other Next You novels and found the same thing. There’s even a good example of what I’m talking about in the author’s bio on Amazon. It’s as if he refuses to go back and read over what he’s written, which is a shame since its otherwise pretty good.

So, if you’re looking for a great sci-fi story with lots of action and an occasional laugh, and you don’t mind the regular WTF moments where you have to re-read a paragraph or two to try and figure who’s saying, thinking, or experiencing what, and when, give The Legacy of Daddy a try. Unfortunately, for me, those moments were too often and, in the end, wore me out. By the last third of the book I was tired and eager to be finished with it, which is not a good sign.

My rating? Three stars.

 

Other Next You Books by Angus H. Day -----------------------

 
 

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Just a quick footnote: A five-star rating, as you might imagine, means I thought the book was fantastic. A four-star rating means I really liked it and would recommend it to anyone. A three-star rating means I liked the book, but I might be on the fence about recommending it because of some major flaw.

See y’all next week. Until then, Happy Reading!
Oh, and if you're interested in some good paranormal fantasy, check out my books:

The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                            in Paperback     
ebook for Nook                                              in Charlotte                    
ebook for Kobo                                              Smashwords

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------



Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                                                   in Paperback
ebook for Nook                                                                     in Charlotte
ebook for Kobo                                                                     Smashwords

Friday, September 6, 2013

Writing Isn't Everything


I’ve been in a little production slump lately. Work on Red Wolf Rising has stalled while I ponder ways to correct some defects my editing team pointed out in the first draft of part one. In addition, I’ve gotten sidetracked with trying to get my new web site up and running.
And I’m not alone. I’ve noticed a number of social media posts lately from other members of my little writing circle bemoaning similar roadblocks in their paths. When such things happen, many of us tend to beat ourselves up about it.
So I decided to give us all a little pep talk.

Writing isn’t everything. It…

…is not “the answer”

All my life I’ve dealt with the problem of finding something that’s new and interesting - or just makes me feel good - and thinking, Oh, this is it, the thing I was born to do – the thing that will make me whole. The first hit I got playing baseball, the first ace I served up in tennis, the first laugh I got from a joke I told, rock and roll, drugs, any number of women at one time or another… the list goes on.
It happened once more a few years back when I started writing again, finished my first novel, published, and had some people really like it. What fun! How interesting! How stimulating! I’m working on my third novel, and I’ve written something most days since October of 2010. Writing has improved the quality of my life, and I can’t imagine not doing it now.
It has contributed to the wholeness of my being, but it hasn’t made me whole.

…does not define me.

… and that’s a good thing.
When folks ask the question, are you a writer, I’ll answer, yes. But there’s always a half second of hesitation, because I’m much more. I wear lots of hats, including father, son, educator, counselor, and friend (both in need and indeed).

…is not the foundation of my self esteem.

… thank god.
I have to admit, the first time someone told me they really liked The Draculata Nest, I was on Cloud Nine for days. And every time I get a five-star review on Amazon or Goodreads my head swells a little, for sure. But, I’ll tell you a secret, what I write isn’t for everyone and not everyone likes it. Not even me, sometimes.
So, it’s good that my feelings of self-worth stem from other sources.

And, after all, I have other hobbies and interests.

I also play the guitar and write songs, so I have other creative outlets. And, do you know any writer that isn’t also an avid reader? I’m no exception to that rule. I like movies, too; and I can stay glued to the TV screen for hours watching all sorts of crap.
 

And I love being outdoors. So you can often find me hiking, backpacking, playing softball, paddling a canoe, or riding my bike. When it comes right down to it, I’m a pretty well-rounded individual. So… no, writing isn’t everything…

… It’s just way ahead of whatever’s in second place.

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Well, did that help any struggling writers out there? Let me know. The comments section is just past the ads for my books.

Next week I’ll be doing a review of a neat little book I’m reading, The Legacy of Daddy, a science fiction offering from Angus H. Day.
        Until then, Happy Reading!

The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                            in Paperback     
ebook for Nook                                              in Charlotte                    
ebook for Kobo                                              Smashwords

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------



Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle                                                                   in Paperback
ebook for Nook                                                                     in Charlotte
ebook for Kobo                                                                     Smashwords