Archive for category Novel
Science fiction has always been a vehicle for giving a twist to other genres. Whether it’s fantasy, drama, comedy, action or horror, science fiction has elevated these genres into a different realm by infusing aliens, spaceships, advanced and future technology, and time travel into those basic genres. In other words, if you to remove the “science-fiction” element, you’d still have a story to tell. When you’ve developed strong, relateable characters, created an intriguing plot and written smooth prose that flow across the page like butter across popcorn, you become invested enough to forget you’ve been transported to a different world and accept the weird things that come along with it. With her book Transmuted, Robin Praytor does just that – transports you to a world beyond our galaxy but keeps makes it fun enough to keep it grounded in a bizarre alt-reality.
Labeled as a sci-fi mystery, Transmuted takes place in the year 2519 on Dark Landing, a space station built upon an asteroid in the Zeta Quadrant. Due to the ability to travel through the vastness of space via wormholes, it’s not clear where Zeta Quadrant is, but it’s an outpost for traders from every galaxy to hang. The chief security officer of Dark Landing is Drew Cutter, a somewhat disgruntled man who seems to be fed up with everything around him, but still does his job with fierce determination — and a laxness for those he knows get in trouble but aren’t harmful to anyone. He runs the show with all the decorum he can muster and keeps his team, including Mattie, Curtis and Doc, in check and up-to-date on everything happening under his watch.
One day, there’s a massive explosion inside one of the docking bays. Drew and his team are on it, but there are dozens of questions, the most important of which is who planted the bomb and why. At the same time, Drew meets a wayward vagrant who happens to be an attractive young lady in disguise. She claims to be Letty, the daughter of a very important person in the intergalactic community who owns the company that basically built the systems the universe uses across its outposts as well as the security teams that run them. Letty tells Drew she was sent her to Dark Landing because Drew was the only person her father said she could trust. Unable to reciprocate that trust, he locks her up until he discovers some news that requires her help in sorting out.
The relationship between Letty and Drew is strong from their first meeting to the last page. Robin sets up a brother/sister relationship that stems on incest but clearly isn’t, as their is a soft spark regardless of how both ignore and/or refuse to acknowledge it. I think Robin may go on a little too much and harp on a little too often, though, about how Drew finds Letty obsessively attractive. After the first ten times, it’s like, all right, we get it; he’s infatuated with her. At the same time, this bombardment of fixation shows just how invested he is in her and plays well toward the end of the book, even when it starts to speed up a little too much and begins to spray the book with ex machina after ex machina to wrap things up.
It comes after Drew and Letty figure out what’s happening, and have basically solved the mystery, one which I did find pretty compelling, yet not complete… it’s as if Robin sort of gave up on her own mystery in order to keep the book from getting too long. She sets up several things three quarters of the way through that are never developed the way they could have been, and by the end, these developments sort of just dissolve away due to reasons that come off a little too easy and superficial. T the same time, the speed of the the last few chapters kept me from getting super involved, wherein the emotions that should have been brought out in us as readers are subdued because the stakes don’t seem as high as they should.
However, because of the interactions of the characters and the way Robin has developed them throughout the book, this quickened pace can be in a way forgiven. I like how each of the relationships grows and evolves, bridging the events with the heart of the book, which is the mystery. Robin does a good job at pacing the reveal of the answers, sprinkling them about at just the right times and just the right moments to keep us interested in the mystery itself and what’s happening and why. Because of this, the book moves at a pretty quick clip and does exactly what science fiction should do— make you forget that hooker monks, nanobots, wormholes and lifeless alien armada’s are at the core of a mystery surrounded by plenty of fun, intense action.
My Grade: A
Robin got into writing as a way to distract herself from the barrage of deadlines and to-do lists of her corporate life creating training materials and drafting legal documents. These stories demanded to be written, and like any good writer, she headed the call. Born in Michigan, Robin now lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her patient (and long-suffering) husband, and is in the process of completing her second novel.
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If you are an independent author and would like your book reviewed, let me know in the comments section with a link to where I can purchase the book. If I find it intriguing, and it’s something I think I’d like, I will purchase a copy and add it to my reading list. I will be doing one independent book review per month, so not all requests will be accepted.
While I was reading Shakyra Dunn’s novelette, First Words: Final Lesson, I had no idea it was a prequel to a much larger world that has yet to be written. There is a small note in the book’s description that it sets the stage for a larger event, but it’s not as clear as it could be, so until I got to the very end and was given a taste of the actual first book in the forthcoming series (titled “The Final Lesson”), I was under the impression this was just the first book in a new series, when in actuality all it’s meant to do is showcase a few key pieces of information that should help in your enjoyment of the actual first book. With that said, the following review is on my initial read while under the impression that it was a complete novel that as opposed to a simple compendium setting up what’s to come. Read Full Review
I’m a sci-fi geek. I can admit that. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved the idea of aliens and other worlds, futuristic technology and time travel. I believe it’s because they tend to explore the human condition while having the liberty to traverse strange new worlds and are provided the freedom to turn everything upside down on a whim without being branded impossible. That’s because science fiction is inherently unrealistic — until it isn’t. The best sci-fi writers have a tendency to predict the future, the best of which have already innovated new technology before its time. Others have seen the future, or created technology and got it wrong, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any less worthwhile. It’s a way to study the what-if of human nature, to explore the tendencies of mankind and provide a unique opinion on what might happen if we continue down the road we all travel at any given point in time. And for me, it’s one of the greatest roads a man can travel to free his imagination. Read Full Review
There seems to be a lot of debate on social media when it comes to whether someone, especially an author, should write and/or publish a bad review (as in, a 1 or 2 star review). For me, I’ve never been one to coddle anyone. As an author, I know I can’t please everyone, and there are going to be those who hate my work. But for a reader to refrain from providing a bad review simply because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or because they feel they are helping the author somehow, remember: it’s always better to get an honest review (especially if it points out exactly why a reader thought it was bad) than to have zero reviews or get a lot of fake reviews simply to bolster the rating. In my opinion, if an artist publishes a book, releases a piece of music or puts out a new film, they are ready to receive criticism, both good and bad. Nothing is perfect. There isn’t good without evil. There isn’t yin without yang. Heck, not everyone loves The Godfather. With that being said, prepare yourself, because as you may have guessed, my review for Alvin Atwater’s novel, Fragment, isn’t going to be all honey and roses. Proceed at your own risk
Promotions, advertising and marketing can be a real pain, especially for those who aren’t social media savvy, or have no money to advertise. I’ve tried different things in the past to promote my work, once asking readers to translate the title of a novel using only the moves of a chess game (tying it into the events of the book) to setting up an online scavenger hunt (again, because it related to the plot of the book). Both failed dramatically. But that’s not going to stop me from trying new things to get the word out about my books and encourage reading, reviewing and sharing. Learn More
“Show don’t tell.”
It’s one of the first things fiction authors learn. It essentially means to set every scene with emotion, details and physical action rather than bluntly telling the reader what happened. For example, if a major battle happens, it’s always more satisfying to revel in all of the gory details than to simply say, “Both sides fought an epic war and side A became the victor.” Readers hunger to be part of the action, as if they are standing right alongside each of the characters. They can’t live every moment if they feel like an outside bystander being told the events of a story secondhand. A reader’s investment relies heavily on details, and when their attention wanes, that’s when a book tends to be replaced with another before “The End” is reached.
Author Jenna Whittaker falls into this trap quite often in her novel, Watership. Though I did sluggishly make it to the final page, it was extremely hard to invest any interest in what was happening. Read Full Review
It happens quite often. I’ll come upon a post on Facebook or Twitter of an author referencing word counts in some way.
How many words are too many words?
What’s the correct word count for ?
How many words should there be per chapter?
Should I split my book into two to keep the word counts down?
I have to add/shave ‘x’ amount of words to reach my target number.
This ominous pressure to land the perfect word count for a book or genre for the sheer purpose of writing the “perfect” book really ruffles my feathers. There tends to be a big misnomer out there that if a book in a certain genre is too long, no one will read it, or if a book is too short, readers will think they’re getting jipped. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who hate books that are longer than a certain number of pages, or won’t fork out $0.99 for a short story, but the majority of readers, I’m sure, care more about reading a good, strong, compelling story as opposed to how long it may or may not be. And though many a teacher may agree and profess that word counts are the end all, be all of writing, I’m from the school that word counts do not matter one iota. And I’ll tell you why. Read Full Article
Indiot is the follow-up to Ana Spoke’s debut novel, Shizzle, Inc., chronicling the hijinks of Isabella Maxwell, a naive blond who wants nothing more than to change (or help) the world, getting herself into extraordinary circumstances along the way. In Shizzle, Inc., this trouble came upon her mostly by accident, as the world seemed to open opportunities she’d then exploit for her own means, messaging the truth and more often than not, putting her foot in her mouth. In Indiot, the tables turn a bit, as Isabella (or Isa, for short) begins to take hold of the reigns of her own destiny. She still gets into plenty of trouble, but instead of unbelievable circumstances pushing her into various comedic predicaments, her conscious decisions now tend to lead her into trouble — a switch that gives her narrative more reliability than in Shizzle, Inc. It doesn’t feel as if Isa is lying as much about what’s happening, making her adventures more authentic and enjoyable. At the same time, her character seems to grow too much too fast, as if the lessons she learned in Shizzle Inc. have taken root, but have matured faster than an alien baby in a science-fiction movie. Read Full Review
Stream of consciousness is a writing technique wherein you write what you’re thinking at one specific time without going back to change or edit anything. It’s mostly used as a tool to get a writer back into the groove of writing whenever they’re trapped in an existential quandary or have a bout of writer’s block. Unless a character in a book is having a stream of consciousness moment, generally an exercise like this isn’t usually published for mass consumption. But L.E. Moebius has taken this tool and used it to her advantage. From what I know, every day for thirty days, Moebius wrote one chapter without pause, without double checking aspects from other chapters or going back to fuss over anything she wrote. Whatever came to her mind in however much time it took is what the chapter became. In her second attempt at this format, 30 Days Stream of Consciousness: A Haunting, Moebius intelligently crafts a fast, creative, but somewhat generic story of a haunted house and its unwitting occupant. Read Full Review