Archive for category Novel

IndieBooks Review – Eomix Galaxy Books: Illusion

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Eomix Galaxy Books: Illusion by Christa Yelich-Koth

There’s been a debate among authors and readers of independent books for quite a while in regards to the etiquette surrounding a book series. As more and more authors choose the independent route over traditional publishing, there seems to be a mindset that you can’t be successful unless you’re writing a book series. One of the major points of contention is how to end the initial book in a series. Some say that if it’s a series, then we should know that everything may not wrap up properly; others will say a first book in a series should stand on its own. If you look at some of the more successful book series, such as Harry Potter or The Dark Tower, the answer tends to be the latter — the first book in the series may have an overarching goal that isn’t necessarily reached, but the book itself has a complete story. Only in the later books do the stories start to intermingle and become less structured, but by then, we’re already heavily invested. A lot of times, having a first book in a series that doesn’t have a complete story makes it feel as if the author opted to divide their story in two because they feel it was easier to sell two 300-page books as opposed to one 600-page book.

I’m not sure what Christa Yelich-Koth’s process was as she wrote Eomix Galaxy Books: Illusion, but even before you begin reading, you already know this is only the first book of at least two, so either it was planned that way or it was split for the sake of, in my opinion, an arbitrary word count. Either way is fine, so long as there is a complete story arc that doesn’t make the novel feel incomplete. Sadly, Illusion feels more like a movie studio splitting a novel into two parts simply to extend a series past it’s expiration date. Christa slowly and expertly leads her story on a path to a specific destination, but then pulls the rug out from under us by providing no closure without spending more money on the next book.

Illusion follows Daith Tocc, a normal girl living a quiet life until she’s abducted and has her memory completely erased by Trey Xiven, commander of the space vessel, Horizon. It’s quickly learned that Trey believes Daith to be the daughter of his former commanding officer, Jacin Jaxx, a very powerful being in the universe, and is hoping to use Daith as a weapon to secure peace in the Eomix Galaxy. To do so, he recruits his brother, Dru, to run several tests on her in order to find out if she truly is what he thinks, and whether she harbors the same power her father did.

The reason I felt there wasn’t any closure is because there aren’t any full character arcs. As Daith goes through her trials and discovers a few breakthroughs in her powers, nothing actually happens to solidify a change in her or any of the other characters. In other words, she learns how to tap into her skills, but with the exception of a few smaller moments and revelations, she doesn’t ever have a chance to utilize them the way I hoped she would (or in the way she eventually will in the next book).

That aside, the book does have some intriguing concepts and a few interesting characters. Both Daith and Dru are extremely likeable; together, they have some of the best parts of the book. Whenever Christa stepped away from them to focus on Trey, I wanted to get back to Dru and Daith and their budding relationship. For whatever the reason, Trey never really connected with me. I’m not sure if it was because of the character, how he was written, or because most of his focus was on the life of Jacin Jaxx, most of which fell a little flat for me. I was much more interested in Daith and how she was going to handle her newfound gifts than I was in learning the history of Jacin Jaxx and how he handled his powers.

Which brings up another interesting topic in the structure of the story itself. In the first chapter, we’re introduced to Daith before she gets her mind wiped, which is all well and good, but with a story like this, a lot of the intrigue comes with not knowing who she was before her memory was erased. By this I mean, the urgency of Daith’s predicament isn’t as strong as it could have been. Had we, the reader, woken up with Daith on the ship without knowing anything about her or her past, and were able to learn everything right alongside her, we would have been able to connect with her more than we already do, heightening an air of mystery that is non-existent since we already know why everything is happening.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of Illusion is well-written (there are some moments that feel a little stale and dialogue that gets a little stunted), and Daith’s storyline kept me interested, I just wish we would have seen a better, more developed arc that led Daith to examine her powers beyond the mere accident or test that fill the majority of the book.

My Grade: B+

Christa Yelich-Koth is an award-winning author and graphic novelist, and co-founder and head of submissions for Buzz & Roar Publishing. Born in Milwaukee, Christa graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, which helps her when writing creatures and worlds in her science fiction. She writes because “I love creating something that pulls me out of my own world and lets me, for a little while, get lost inside someone or someplace else.”

Check out all of Christa’s social media platforms:

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Christa Yelich-Koth

Author Blog

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

YouTube

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.

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IndieBook Review – Transmuted

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Transmuted – A Sci-Fi Mystery by Robin Praytor

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.

Check out all of Robin’s social media platforms:

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Robin Praytor

Author Blog

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

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.

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IndieBook Review: First Words: Final Lesson

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First Word: Final Lesson by Shakyra Dunn

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

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IndieBook Review – Gemini Gambit

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Gemini Gambit — A Novel by D. Scott Johnson

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

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My Goals (and Challenges) for 2017

Now that 2016 is in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look ahead and see what 2017 may bring. There are a lot of things I wanted to do in 2016 (which include some of my 2016 resolutions) that sadly remained on the bottom of my to-do list from when the idea was born to the end of the year. I’m hoping to rectify that and pull those projects to the top and complete them in the first half of the year… if not sooner. Check out all of my Goals and Accomplishments

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IndieBook Review – Fragment

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Fragment — A novel by Alvin Atwater

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

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Book-Related Swag Giveaway

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Enter now at bryancaron.com

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

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IndieBook Review – Watership

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Watership — A Novel by Jenna Whittaker

“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

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Word Counts and Why They Don’t Matter

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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

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IndieBook Review – Indiot

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

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