Truth Unleashed on L___: A poetic study of relationships

lovebook

L___ : A poetic study of relationships
(Poetry anthology)
Dane Swan (editor and coordinator)
Amazon

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board is here to share our thoughts on L___: A poetic study of relationships, presented to us by the editor.

First up, Mini Truth:

minitruthbanner

In all truth, I have mixed thoughts about this book. The bad part is that the bad outweighed the good.

However, before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a little bit about it.

“L___: A poetic study of relationships” is basically a compilation of several poems, thoughts, images, short stories and the like that are all combined by a single thread. Relationships.

Here we find a combination of love, loss, hate, passion, randomness and everything and anything in between.

In actuality this is a book that can be considered to range from “Oh I get it” to “What the hell was I just reading” but that is the point. I understood this very well.

In all truth, the premise was very attractive to me which is why I was glad at the idea of delving into it. As a lover of poetry and the arts, the basis of this book, at first glance, was incredibly attractive to me. As I surmise that it would be to anyone who shares my interests.

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Nevertheless, upon opening the book and diving into it, my excitement was quickly sedated. The book turned out not to be what I would have hoped it was. My desire was to bask in a written museum, if you will. But I was let down.

Following you’ll find my thoughts on the work. I will divide my impression in bullets of pros and cons:

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PROS

  • I enjoyed the idea of the work. I was really attracted to the original theme and the fact that this work surpassed your ordinary “love” themed poetry book.
  • I enjoyed the originality of the title.
  • There were a few stand out pieces that I actually enjoyed. They are the following:
  1. Wess Ryan’s “If I were the earth”
  2. Cathy Petch’s “Soundly Sleepless”
  3. Lisa Young’s “The New Maple”
  4. Banoo Zan’s “Assimilation”
  • I also enjoyed that many different poets, artists and writers contributed to the work.

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CONS

  • As I was reading through it, I couldn’t help but feel that it was put together sloppily and in a rush. It felt, read and looked like a simple “Cut & Paste” work that one would do on his or her computer.
  • There was a significant amount of editing that was needed. I realize that certain poets write in a specific style, and I respect that very much. I’ve even heard of poets that write solely in lowercase lettering. I get that. I really do, but I was looking beyond artistic style and noticing lots of flaws in syntax.
  • There were way too many of the works that I felt were just unattractive in both delivery and composition. Including and not limited to one specific work that was referring to a single member of a dog’s anatomy.
  • Due to the poor construction of the works, I found myself often times reading in an ambulatory state. As a matter of fact a lot of the works I just could not mentally process (not due to the meaning of the work, but the delivery) yet, I did not care enough to read it again.
  • Also, I think that there should have been divided into “type of content”. For example, there should have been a section dedicated only to poems, another for short stories, and another for art work. As you flip through the pages there is no rhyme or reason to the organization of the book.

Conclusion:  All in all, I was not impressed or pleased with the way this book was put together and I feel as though it gave the contributors a huge injustice as many of these works had great potential. I truly think that this book calls for a complete revamp.

Verdict: 5 out of 10 TRB Stars

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Now let’s go to the Unleashed one.

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Unleashed Speaks

I have to address this from two minds:

(1) A poetic mind (writer and fan of poetry)
(2) An outsider mind (reader)

Source: smurfs.wikia.com

Source: smurfs.wikia.com

Poetic wise, I can appreciate the construct and the adaptation of this project.  It exudes eccentricity and ranges of thought that are quite admirable.  There were quite a few poets who had me from the beginning of their stanzas to the very last syllable (particularly Dianne Robinson, Cathy Perch, and Wes Ryan).  Yet there were others whose works I would have to really stop, let the lines fully soak, but found myself reading them again to see if I missed something.  Whether it was intentional or not was very hard to say for sure.  I also liked the images sprinkled within the works: the brash blends of colors within each of the displayed works of art.

Source: augiedoggy.com

Source: augiedoggy.com

Now let me tackle an outsider’s perspective.  From the sense of someone being drawn in by the premise and deciding to check out the contents.

This work was presented to The Review Board by the editor and coordinator of the collection.  I wonder if he was given permission to do any alterations in reference to any of the works.  In some places, the spacing and candor were well done and my eyes were pleased with the wonderful relationship between print and white space.  In other areas, it was as if the work was copied and pasted in.

On the inside, a lot of the following can be seen:

  • Lack of capitalization
  • Lack of or nonexistent periods
  • Indecisive stanza separation
  • Indentation in strange areas

The poetic side of me recognizes that the majority of this is primarily style.  Yet I have to address whether the reader will automatically pick up on that.  In most instances, the reader may not.

One contributor to the collection used periods to substitute for the apostrophe marks.  Although my eyes and brain were able to adapt quickly, it would be fallacy on my end to assume others would automatically do the same and that it wouldn’t get annoying after a while.

Source: sacredwaste.com

Source: sacredwaste.com

For people who are sticklers to clear indicators of pause in thought, the sporadic (or no) use of certain punctuation marks (such as a period) may give the works a rushed feel to the reader.  It’s like wave after wave being crashed against someone and that person not being given a chance to take extra breaths.

The method might get a pass for the first few pieces.   However if a reader gets bombarded with this style continuously, it can serve to be a bit overwhelming.  This rough take (free flow effect) could potentially dampen the overall enjoyment of the book. The reader may be looking for a collection where he can identify with each work without it being a testament to excessive deciphering. Even, fighting the urge to try to determine which forms of conveyance are intentional versus those which are clearly faux paus.

In addition, readers who are fans of sentence structure could be baffled how in one poem, there’s no capitalization used (like with the word “I”) or clear stanza separation, yet another work by that very same writer could include structural correctness.  If this work’s target audience is an open one, then some areas of connectivity in appearance would be welcomed.

The Verdict:  After taking all things into consideration, I give L___: A poetic study of relationships a 6.5 out of 10 TRB Stars.

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The show’s not over yet.  Let’s add these numbers and divide by two, shall we?

6stars

Overall TRB gives this work a 6 out of 10 TRB stars (5.75 rounded to 6 if one wants to be technical).

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share and subscribe.  Have a wonderful day!

Seeing the Author with Devorah Fox (April Author Spotlight)

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Devorah Fox
Website: Dee-Scoveries
Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Greetings!  How are you?  Nikki Vision has returned to do another interview, this time with Devorah Fox!  Let’s uncover more with “Seeing the Author”.

1: To begin, could you tell us a little about yourself and your fiction books?

thelostkingThe Lost King
(Book One)

kingransom

The King’s Ransom
Book Two

Nominated for Indie Authorland’s short list:
50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading (Fantasy Category)

I’m currently writing in two genres. The Lost King and The King’s Ransom are Books One and Two of the literary fantasy series, The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam. It’s the saga of one man’s struggle to reclaim his life after a traumatic crisis completely changed his fortunes. I’m working on Book 3, The King’s Redress, with the goal of a Summer 2014 launch.

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Naked Came the Sharks

Nominated for Indie Authorland’s short list: 
50 Self-Published Books Worth Reading (Thriller Category)

I’ve also co-authored Naked Came the Sharks, a contemporary thriller set in the Texas Coastal Bend. That has been so well received that I’m co-authoring a spin-off.

2: I noticed that you have done lots of writing marathons, which one works best for you?

They all worked well because they were the beginning of novels that never would have gotten written otherwise. I work full time and find it hard to squeeze in working on a novel. The deadline of a writing marathon creates just the right amount of pressure to get it done. I plan to do two writing marathons in 2014: Camp NaNoWriMo in April and the National Novel Writing Marathon in November.

3:  Where do you find inspiration?

For me it starts with “What if…?” The littlest thing like a TV commercial or a billboard gets me thinking “OK, but what if…?” Before I know it, I’m drafting a novel.

4:   Do you do a lot of research before writing your books?

I do the research as I’m writing. With regard to The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam series I don’t know what I need to know until I start writing. By the same token, my research often inspires my writing. For example, in The King’s Ransom, I got King Bewilliam locked in a dungeon with no idea about how he was going to get out until I researched castle construction.

5:   Would you say that The Lost King was just fantasy, or does it have more to say about the world we live in today?

The Lost King—the entire series—is most definitely allegoric for contemporary issues. In The Lost King, Robin struggles with divorce, career displacement and post-traumatic stress disorder. Like present-day military service veterans, in The King’s Ransom he makes it home and finds that while he was gone life went on without him. In Book Three, The King’s Redress which I’m working on now, he struggles with parent/child relationships and the tug-of-war between duty and personal ambition.

6:  One of my favourite characters in The Lost King and The King’s Ransom, is the stray cat, Meeyoo, is she by any chance based on a real life kitty?

Meeyoo was definitely inspired by a real cat, a rescued stray who’s probably part Maine Coon Cat. The model for Meeyoo is a smart, sweet loyal feline with a strong personality. I’m a cat lover myself. I have three and they are such a delight. They’re the inspiration for another animal character in The King’s Redress.

7:  Do you have a favourite character from any of your books? If so, tell us what it is about them that you like.

I was surprised to find myself utterly enchanted by young Maxwell. I love his energy, enthusiasm and ingenuousness. He thinks he deserves his own book and he may get it.

8: How do you relax?

I’ve been told that I don’t. The closest I come to relaxing is curling up on the couch in the evening with my Significant Other and my cats and watching “Midsomer Murders” on Netflix. I’m also a member of the Parrot Heads of Port Aransas and a PHOPA function is always good for unwinding.

9: Looking at your bio I notice that you don’t just write fantasy, but other genres as well. I was intrigued to see that you write manuals, smartphone apps and columns, do any of these specific writing skills help you in your fiction writing?

I wouldn’t say that the nonfiction writing helped with the fiction writing. I might say the reverse. I try to use storytelling techniques to make my nonfiction writing lively and entertaining as well as informative.

10: Are there any authors that have inspired you?

In the 1990s I read Faye Kellerman’s first book, The Ritual Bath. I really enjoyed it and remember thinking, “I’d like to do that. I’d like to write a novel.” I did write a novel and then I put it aside. I still have it and I still like the story and plan to dust it off one day and get it out there.

11:  You also have an artistic side. I thought your sand sculptures were amazing. Would you tell us about your etchings and glass paintings, and what attracted you to these disciplines?

Some many years ago I bought a glass painting and etching kit from a discontinued craft line. I’ve always liked the look of frosted glass and etching creates that effect. I created my own etched glass panes for the upper cabinet doors in my kitchen. As for the sand sculptures, most of those aren’t mine, they’re the creations of Chip Cooper, aka DC Sandman. I did take a sand sculpting lesson from him. It was like art therapy that left me feeling relaxed and revitalized. Chip is a big fan of The Lost King and I was totally stoked when he sculpted Bell Castle as a semi-permanent installation. It was like fan fiction in sand.

12: What is a typical working day for you?

I’m usually up and at it by 4:30 or 5 a.m. I check email and see what’s happening with my friends on Facebook, GoodReads and Twitter. Then I go for a 3-mile power walk on the beach. It’s about the only time I’m not glued to my desk chair. Most days I’m busy running Mike Byrnes and Associates, Inc. until 5 p.m. but sometimes I can squeeze in work on whatever novel I’ve got in progress. When I’m doing a writing marathon I task myself with writing 1667 words a day before I tackle anything else, which makes for a very long workday.

13:  Do you have a special place where you write?

I have an office in the home. It’s not as special as I would like and I keep telling myself I’m going to de-clutter and redecorate but I have yet to get around to it.

14: What future plans do have in regards to your fiction writing?

This year I hope to release The King’s Redress in the summer and then another thriller in the winter. I’m also collaborating with another author on short continuing adventures for Holly Berry and Rusty Burger from my contemporary thriller, Naked Came the Sharks. I’ve got plans for more thrillers for 2015, I’d really like to do a literary fantasy with Maxwell from the King Bewilliam series and I’ve been asked to write a play for our community theatre.

Devorah, thanks so much for stopping by.  We wish you much success for 2014 and beyond!

Thanks to everyone for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe, and comment!  Have an awesome day!

Wordsmith Unleashed on Not From Around Here

notfromaroundhere

Not From Around Here by Larry Hochwald
Amazon| Amazon Author Page

Genre: Horror/Paranormal/Science Fiction short story collection

Synopsis via Amazon:

Not From Around Here is a collection of 18 unique and connected stories that are sometimes scary and sometimes funny, but are always thought provoking, entertaining and unlike any you’ve ever read before. In this book you’ll find: “Best Friend”, where a young man is going through difficult times, until a little boy with a remarkable secret reminds him of the healing power of friendship. “The Placebo Effect,” where a doctor uncovers a shocking conspiracy, but his murder leaves it in the hands of his close friend to get the truth to the government. “Join the Club,” in which a college organization has a frightening initiation and a tantalizing reward. “Faker,” a rich grandfather wants to make sure his grandchildren grow up just right—unlike his own children. “Fur and Loathing,” the story of how a disgruntled groundhog takes matters into its own paws. “Old Ways,” where an African curse threatens to end a family’s bloodline. And “Mirrors,” where a man getting a haircut sees a reflection in the mirror of someone waving to him, who isn’t actually in the room. All of these, and 11 more extraordinary tales, await you.

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board is here to share our thoughts on the short story collection Not From Around Here.  First we have Wordsmith Andi:

thinkerwordsmith

The Wordsmith Weighs In:

Not From Around Here is a collection of 18 short stories ranging in genres from horror to paranormal to science fiction. Starting with “Best Friend” the book begins on slightly predictable note with an adult man pining for family meeting a ghost boy. This is the last point at which I thought that anything in this book was predictable, and for a variety of reasons.
Hochwald has a talent for storytelling, evidenced in the range of genres he collected herein. His ideas are imaginative and a great many of his outcomes/plot reveals I simply did not see coming. I enjoyed the first half of the book which comprises stories revolving more around horror and paranormal. I got a few chuckles from stories like “Fur and Loathing” and “Join the Club”. However, the second half of the book made me feel mired in viscous sludge in trying to wade through his science fiction efforts. Once I hit “Faker” my enjoyment took a rapid downturn.

The Evolution of Alan Trente (or not)

Get your Alan Trente shirts here!

Get your Alan Trente shirts here!

It was right around this time when I realized Hochwald loves the name Alan Trente. He uses it as the name for his main characters in 9 of the 18 stories: “Best Friend”; “Join the Club”; “Faker”; “Mirrors”; “Desolation Lovers”; “When This War Began”; “Wall”; “Revelation”; and “Not From Around Here”. Considering the wide variety of stories he imagines and tells this overuse of the name strikes me as hackneyed and entirely unoriginal. It would be one thing if each Alan Trente was written as an entirely unique person but just as the name doesn’t vary the personality attached to it doesn’t either. After the first few stories like this I began to wonder if I wasn’t actually reading a book about one rather boring guy who just happened to have a multitude of extraordinary things happen to him and have the same lifelong best friends: George, Richard and Stephen.

Deeper Story Observations (Piping Hot)

There are just a few individual stories that I was compelled to comment upon:

“Old Ways” read more as an overlong summary for an equally long epic Sci-Fi fantasy blended novel. Hochwald displays a penchant for more “telling” scads of back story than attention to character development and interaction. The overload of this information via dialog grew tiresome quickly and I found myself repressing the urge to scroll past this story to start the next. I stuck with it for integrity’s sake, digesting the full story (31 pages) with wide eyed exasperation as the pages just continued to scroll by without the story ever getting any better. The plot does pick up with action toward the end but after so much convoluted back story serving to dull my interest I couldn’t actively engage in it.

I didn’t understand the point of the inclusion of “When This War Began” except as space/page filler. The author states twice in this 3 page “story” that this isn’t a science fiction story but a metaphor. To me it appears as only another way to re-use the names Alan Trente and Richard, his best friend.

I was most intrigued by the ideas in “Wall” and went off on an abstract bunny trailing for awhile which is always fun but Hochwald’s style doesn’t do justice to his ideas.

Less Science More Soul

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Hochwald’s style in his science fiction stories appears to be more focused on expounding upon details (convoluted back-story, super science-rich hypothesizing, etc) through long paragraphs of information-rich dialog than in actually telling a story.
The author “tells” more than he shows and in such a way as to eventually achieve that dreaded “glazing over of the eyes and fogging of the brain” when too much information is given in a manner that is informative rather than engaging through character description, development, physical interaction and so on. They read so much more like dumbed-down yet somehow gloriously overcomplicated dialogic explanations on the depths of his scientific knowledge, daydreaming and readings rather than composing stories that reach out and snag the reader through action, character development and interaction. There is simply too much science in his science fiction and not enough of a human element so as to make them relatable and engaging. I found myself reading them not so much out of curiosity or concern for the characters and what happens to them but from a place of “I hope the next story makes me feel something for the people he’s creating and putting through all these strange plot twists”. As a reader I want to see events unfold rather than be led through them by the hand like some grade school child. I want to connect with the characters and be pulled at emotionally. Hochwald failed to kindle my true interest due to these shortfalls.

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Hochwald is cautioned to remember to provide that necessary balance between humanistic feeling and relation over the inundation of the science necessary to compose a science fiction narrative. Without characters to evoke our emotional connections science fiction is merely a collection of scientific facts, theories and fantasies that leave the reader feeling bored and regretting the time invested in reading the book. Give us less science, more descriptive imagery, more definition and depth of characters. If you can’t give us less science, find a way for your characters to show us their story as it unfolds rather than feeding us a ceaseless stream of point to point narration.

The Eyes Should Have It!

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Hochwald would do well to have an editor review his manuscript in great detail. The editing misses were numerous for misplaced or unnecessary punctuation, and if commas could provide sustenance Hochwald gives nourishment in plenty here. The editing misses that I spotted are as follows:

Page 44:
“Alan decided he would have to charge down the steps, knock that grotesque walking pile of bones down, and get passed it, if he were going to get out of this.” (past, not passed)

Page 46:
“Alan opened his eyes and saw Jessica looking down at him, so beautiful, bathed
in sunlight —it was morning.” (no quotations needed as this is not dialog)

Page 48:
She gave him a shy little smile. (italicized, unnecessary – not a train of thought)

Page 52:
“Finally his grandfather spoke. (misplaced quotation)

Page 58:
A slight smile crossed Ishii’s slips. I am quite sure you are not evil, yet I am also quite sure you have done something bad….” (missing starting quote for dialog)

Page 59:
“You’re prisoners? You don’t seem so bad. None of you do.” I said looking around me.”; At first I think it was a false laugh to mock what he had said, but I could not stop, I was laughing so hard.”(misplaced quotations)

Page 70:
They went inside, and came out a few minutes later. (extra spacing)

Page 78:
Alan wondered, “how do we get passed this thing?” (past, not passed)

Page 98:
In her exploration, their mother came across a remarkable people: the Hutuu. (mispelling of Huutu)

Page 99:
“It’s nothing to look at yet, but soon it will be a grand temple to my great presence,’ Tril’anga said in perfect English. Though the tribe spoke a dialect of an old language, their mother was able to understand and converse fluently. P’kutuh, the shaman, however, was able to speak freely in English and their mother was sure someone must have made contact before she did. P’kutuh assured her he was granted the ‘gift of tongues’ by the old ones, and that was how he did this. ‘Yes,’ Tril’anga said, ‘I have the gift of tongues.” (This section is italicized and is previously explained as a diary entry the main characters are reading, written from their mother’s point of view. However, at this juncture the tense changes from a retelling from their mother to a third person accounting yet the text remains italicized).

Page 101:
Flames burst out all around them: colored flames, green, blue, red, it would have been beautiful if it weren’t deadly.” (needs a semicolon after red; misplaced quotation – no dialog).

Page 111:
“From what I understood we should put it high up on the outside. The men went outside the tent and Scott pushed on the side of the tent to bring it down, so Robert could better access the top. (missing end quotation after “on the outside.”)

Page 112:
“Maybe, but we can’t know for sure until we know what’s going on. Kah’lar gave us the amulet also and said it was the most powerful protection. It was for the one going back home to face Tril’anga — so you have it. Either the Huutu magic is working or it isn’t, but I don’t think it would be any more dangerous to take a look at what is going on out there. They moved closer to the front flap. Robert touched the amulet he wore under his shirt. (missing end quotation after “what is going on out there.”)

Page 130:
“They’ve infected me with the virus. I’m in bad shape. At first, I feared it would be a long and painful process, but now it seems it might go more quickly than even I might have hoped. (missing end quotation; next line in text opens new dialog from a different speaker)

Page 137:
Smoothly and quietly it accelerated while the artificial gravity and dampening system kept the G-forces from becoming uncomfortable.” (misplaced end quotation; no dialog)

Page 162:
Now I would need to probe their weaknesses with the computer, in a way that would give me sufficient information and, not arouse suspicion. Just then, a wall lit up and Mr. Archer was on a large screen. (This section is italicized as protagonist’s stream of thought. The last sentence in this paragraph is not stream of thought but description of a change in environs and therefore should be separated into its own line and not italicized)

There were also a few formatting issues of note:

Desolation Lovers: There appears to be a spacing issue for the text: in some places it appears to be single spaced, in others 1.5, and strewn throughout the text are large gaps of open white space between paragraphs, which usually indicate a scene-change but in this case it appears to be an editing/formatting issue.

Almost Home:
The tense changes at:I keep eyeing the clock. I have to steel my nerves for what I have already put off too long ; the call home. I must accept that I’m late and call to check in.

The phone rang four times before Laura picked up. I was greeted by a tentative, “Hello”.

(The text continues on in 3rd tense from there).

In conclusion: Hochwald infallibly delivers a unique twist in his plots that often made me chuckle; others made me wince, deeply. He delivers on his promise to deliver thought provoking stories but is thankfully vague about what kind of thoughts he, his stories and writing style will invoke. Where others appear to have greatly enjoyed this collection I’m afraid I am left wanting and unimpressed.

 

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Next the Unleashed One:

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Unleashed Speaks:

I have quite a bit to cover, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  First I will cover what I consider strengths in this work.

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Want a Plate for your Conflict?

There was plenty of conflict to go around with each of the stories.  The conflict presented in each story did contribute to moving each one along.

Set a Table for Me

In the majority of the stories, I could actually feel as if I were there.  This served as a plus for the author.

Humor Me

The author’s quirky sense of humor is sprinkled throughout the collection.  My quirkiness could connect with the humor rather well.

But hold on!  There’s a knock at the door.  Could there be party crashers?  No other than the crew of Opportunities Galore.  I really hope I made enough food!  Here are some things that could use some “spit shine to leather shoes.” (as my Grandpa would say)

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Stuck in the Middle (Gimme a Hook)

With the majority of the stories, I felt like I was catapulted in the middle of a strange land with absolutely no map or compass to guide me.  It took a brief moment for me to get hooked in and drawn into what most of the stories (especially the longer ones) were focused on.

Couldn’t resist..sorry

Dialogue Laying the Smack Down on Action

In these stories, the author relied heavily on dialogue to carry the stories. This served as a major deterrent and made it difficult for me to get invested in the stories. Instead, the author should have incorporated more action to really make the reader seem like she was there.

Repetition in Themes

In all of these works, certain themes were put on replay:

  • God vs. the Devil (“Mirrors “and “Revelation)”
  • Aliens and Strange Behaviors of every day creatures (“Desolation Lovers”, “Fur & Loathing”, “Carpet Shock”, and “Wall”)
  • Viruses (“OCD”, “When This War Began”)
  • Deceased in denial of departure (“Best Friend”, “Almost Home”)

I would have liked a bit more variation. If not, for certain themes to have been grouped together to substantiate consistency in reader flow.

With some of the darker themes, I recognize that it is hard to find a horror/science fiction theme that has not been used before.  Yet if  they are used, utilize and execute them well. One example of this is “Desolation Lovers”.  With “Desolation Lovers,” it had a feel to Stephen King’s “The Stand”–in the way that everyone was brought together. Instead of inhaling the scent of rosy delivery, I was choking on the fumes of a recycle that wasn’t quite stellar.  With the length of this story, there should have been better balance between dialogue, character development, and overall narrative, yet it was presented using the same formula as the shorter stories.
conflictedsmiley


He’s Here; He’s There; He’s Everywhere!  Should I beware?

Confusion furrowed my brow because one character (Alan Trente) was present in damn near all of the author’s short stories. An explanation was given at the end to clarify this phenomena. This would have been better suited at the beginning of the works; however, this really subtracted from the potential of originality that could have shown with so many different scenarios being addressed.

Full Character Connectivity

In addition to Alan’s insertion in these stories, there was a missed opportunity to connect with other characters in each of the works. The only exceptions to this mishap is the very first story “Best Friend” (my favorite in the collection) and “Mother’s Nature” which reflected on the author’s own relationship with his mother.

Since “Best Friend” was the very first story and the connectivity with the little boy touched my heart, I predicted the same type of empathetic flow and ambiance with the rest of the stories and the characters.  My excitement soon became drenched.  The connectivity became short circuited (particularly with the longer stories), and by the time I was close to feeling even one-eighth of emotion for a character, it was on to the next story.

Some stories that stood out (OCD, Wall, Old Ways, and Not From Around Here) would have been stellar reads if the author would have taken time to develop their characters.  Quite honestly, these selections could have easily been their own novelettes, novellas, or if the author was feeling heavily ambitious–full fledged novels.  Yet in the short story constructions, the premises of these stories got watered down and felt rushed.

Before I get to my verdict, peep this-

Side Note: I do think if an editor has submitted changes that improve the read of your story (yet do not deter from the story), then an author should listen.  I just find it strange for (1) The editors to not even want to be mentioned and (2) To put out an announcement if one sees editing mistakes, it’s because the editing suggestions weren’t incorporated.

Verdict:  Potential is sprinkled in each of the stories.  Yet lack of enhancement with character developments along with little substance to balance marathon like dialogue and action,  as well as minimal interweaving of originality and recycled horror/macabre took away from my enjoyment.  This is a shame because I am a huge fan of “twists”, “what if scenarios”, and macabre/horror writes.
6stars

Both the Wordsmith and the Unleashed one ranked this work the same, which was why it is placed at the very end: 6 out of 10 TRB Stars.

Thanks for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe.  Have a great day!

 

 

 

Diary of a Sinned Sinner: Mr. Controversy Reflects on “Reflections of Soul”

Greetings everyone!

controversybanner
Mr. Controversy makes his return to The Review Board via The Corners of Controversy.  In this installment, he explores Reflections of Soul by Queen of Spades.

Young sir, you have the floor.

 

reflectionsofsoulReflections of Soul by Queen of Spades
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Right off the Bat, THIS was the song that came to mind.

Why?

I have NO CLUE, yet it called to me, and it fits.

“Reflections of Soul” is a short, sweet, and straight to the point collection of poems written by author Queen of Spades. Her book examines her Trials and Tribulations as she grew up (and still growing). The result of the lessons that she has learned are documented in her poetic words.

For the one year and few months that I have gotten to know (and STILL getting to know) Queen of Spades, I have been privileged to walk with her in Her World. We have discussed what it was like for her to grow up as a Southern Girl, and then moving to other states; learning about people as well herself during her journey. “Reflections of Soul” has captured a great deal and more in regards to her upbringing, her challenges, her failures, and her successes during her life.

A few poems have caught my attention while reading her work.

“Butterfly” has a light and airy feel to it, and had me happily humming Pharrell’s hit “Happy”.

It looked at how Happiness, although should be pursued at times, should come to you, and it will arrive at the right time.

“Never Will” highlights the accumulated strength of Ms. Queen of Spades as she, despite having gone through several rough patches in her life, decides to Never let others’ inadequacies dictate and determine her road.

 

“A Moment in Time Where Words Died” examined how what was her early works in the realm of her writing skills, abilities, and talents (ALL hard works) went up in flames and smoke due to the disrespectful acts of someone who felt that a profit from her gift would never come to fruition. To that person who did that deplorable act:

Looks like you were W-R-O-N-G.

 

I am NOT saying that Ms. Queen of Spades is in to writing for Profit. Her fan base purchasing her work and reading her gifts to the Writing World are proving that the heinous act committed was nothing more than a futile attempt to Break the Spirit and Will of Ms. Queen of Spades.

And it FAILED MISERABLY.

 

Ms. Queen of Spades’ poetry reminds me of my own works and writes. Despite roads taken by the both of us were different, they were in fact and in actuality pretty similar in some areas. We both had people tell us and say that what we are doing will not be accepted or successful. We have had people hurt us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

In essence, have we ALL not traversed this path? Have we ALL not faced adversities that showed our True Character? Have we ALL not looked into the eyes of our oppressors and vowed to NEVER allow them to keep us down anymore?

 

HELL YEAH WE HAVE and we are STILL going strong. NOT to Prove THOSE PEOPLE wrong, but rather Prove to Ourselves that WE DO have the Ingenuity, Intensity, Integrity, Strength, Passion, Drive, and Determination to be SOMEONE and SOMETHING in this life.

 

“Reflections of Soul” is a powerful collection of poetry that got me misty-eyed and DAMN PROUD of Ms. Queen of Spades. She has looked Adversity in the face, kicked it squarely in the balls, and kept moving forward. Her documentation of her life which is Reflected in her Soulful Poetry proves just that.

 

Source: familyfeud

Source: familyfeud

 

Queen of Spades’ “Reflections of Soul” has EARNED from Me, a FLAWLESS AND PERFECT SCORE: 10/10 Stars.

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If you have not picked up a copy of “Reflections of Soul”, do yourself a favor: GET IT NOW!!!

Thanks for checking out The Corners of Controversy segment of The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, and subscribe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harmony Prism Vision on A Book That Ends with Me

abookthatendswithme

A Book That Ends with Me
by H.C. Turk

Amazon | Amazon Author Page | Website

Greetings everyone!  The Review Board has arrived to share its thoughts on A Book That Ends with Me by H.C. Turk.

First to share her views, Harmony Kent:

harmonykent

Genre that makes you go Hmmm:  This is a difficult book to place as far as genre goes: it would fit equally into SF, Surrealism, or Urban Fantasy.

It contains a strong humorous thread throughout.  The style comes across as allegorical in many ways, and this is a novel that would benefit from a second read through.  A re-read may help to clarify some of the more obscure sections.

The world is coming to an end. Predictions are sent to every nation in e-mail messages. But this time, instead of fraud or some misinterpretation of ancient history, the events are coming true. Stan Powers, an average guy in Florida, finds himself living events predicted in the messages, from a picnic on a planetoid to a baseball game played by Greek gods, and finally to Darkday, where demons go door to door and steal the souls of people whose lives are epic failures. These alternate realities are taking over Stan’s life, and soon will take over the world. Verification is provided by scientists who learn that after each prediction is lived out by Stan and his friends, gravitational time stops in the Solar System. Cults of Earth Enders form across the world, their members willing to kill anyone to save the planet. Stan, who is soon in their sights, must learn if he is just a pawn, a player, or the predictor himself.

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What?  What?

The book is told in first person POV, and alternates between Stan’s view and his friend Jimmy’s.  Most of these switches are clearly defined, with only a few slips into unannounced head-hopping.  The writing style is passive in nature, and there are a fair few typos contained within the text.   I did not feel drawn to any of the characters, and felt the development was on the flat side.  The plot and pacing was good throughout, if a somewhat confusing ride at times.  The narrative jumps between realities frequently, and occasionally moves into present tense whereas the majority of the prose is presented in past tense.  The whole thing has a bit of a ‘down the rabbit hole’ feel to it.

The Verdict:  

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I must admit to having to work hard to keep reading at times.  I found some of the scenes difficult in the extreme to follow or make sense of, and found myself wondering ‘what was all that about?’ after some of them.  If you are a fan of books in the ilk of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ then this book may possibly be for you.  The text could do with some editing and further proofreading, but on the whole is passable.  I would say the character development is limited, but the plot and pacing are good.  I give this work 5 out of 10 stars.

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Next we have Casey Prism:

caseyprism

World, meet Stan.

Stan’s just your average guy. His job’s nothing fantastic: a quality taste tester at a fig factory. Immediately Stan delves into explaining the mass email declaring the end of the world.

Stan has multiple encounters with a woman named Ginny, who jumps from nut-job to possible deity and back again. She loves to fish, though rarely uses hooks. Odd, perhaps…or it could just be the alternate realities again…

Source: iwanticewater.wordpress.com

Source: iwanticewater.wordpress.com

This book has a phenomenal sense of humor and keeps you laughing from beginning to end. I also enjoyed some of the underlying messages that seemed to mimic (albeit outrageously in a good way at times,) some of today’s real world issues.

Source: aumethodists.org

When it ended, I had a lot of unanswered questions. Considering the pace of the book, I expected a bit more. There’s a lot of info and many, many sudden scene changes that leave a bit of confusion. I feel some may be intentional but need to be adapted more thoroughly in order to be more coherent for the reader.

puppypower

 Puppy, you’re cute but what’s your purpose?

Overall the premise was refreshing and enjoyable. I’m always down for sci-fi and a good apocalypse. This was certainly atypical, which was nice. I wish more was divulged about the van chic and the necessity over the constant use of puppies, along with my previously state qualm with unanswered questions and scene confusion.

I did like the look of the cover, though besides one scene I wasn’t sure quite how it fits the story.

Verdict:  After much debate, I’m giving A Book That Ends With Me 6.5 out of 10 stars. It doesn’t feel fair to go with a plain six yet I couldn’t bolster it up to seven. With a little polishing that number could easily go up.

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Now last but certainly not least: Nikki Vision.

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Weird, wonderful and thoroughly entertaining read.

I liked the first person narration in this book. It was strong and humorous and also witty. The dialogue is funny and naturalistic and I was hooked from the beginning. I really liked the opening paragraph. Intriguing.

I thought that the idea that Stan, an author that hates reading novels in the first person, is writing his novel in the first person really gives us an insight into his flawed character. Although it is Stan that narrates most of the book, the story is also seen through the eyes of his friend Jimmy; and often re-tells the incidents that occur, so that we get a different perspective on what may, or may not have happened. I liked the quirky way HC Turk uses this technique to move the plotline along; it kept it fresh and engaging.

Stan, and other people start receiving e-mails telling them that the world is going to end. This triggers a series of very unfortunate and often very funny events. There are some truly weird and wonderful moments, and I find it hard to pick just one that would sum up the style and atmosphere of this book. But I have chosen this bit of dialogue as a taster

“Don’t start on me, man. My mom, remember? She heard about this e-mail crap and she’s worried. She thinks she’s going to die poor.”

“Your mom isn’t poor.”

“She wants her velvet painting of Jesus back. She thinks it’s worth something.”

It is full of eccentric and strange characters that seem to have some kind of supernatural powers. Ginny is one such character and is given some great metaphysical dialogue that adds to the feel of strange this book has.

I looked to Ginny.
“Hungry?” I asked.
“I won’t be eating,” she replied.

“Have to pee?” I asked.
“I won’t be peeing.” she replied.
“Take a nap?”
“No dreaming, or drowning!”
I admit to feeling some disappointment to find that Ginny,upon turning normal, displayed zero personality. That was not average. That was exceptional.

There are pseudo gods and goddesses, a reworking of the seven deadly sins, myths and legends and some fabulously surreal moments that kept me wanting more.The dialogue between Stan and Jimmy is marvelous. We get to know about other characters and their personality from their often, surreal conversations.

yikes

When crazy things begin to happen, no one is really sure if the weird occurrences are real or mass hysteria. At times reality is blurred and alternate realities become clear. But one thing is for sure, nothing is going to be the same again and our hero is determined to uncover just what is going on.

It reminded me of a scene from a David Lynch film, I’m thinking Twin Peaks meets Eraser Head.It is also reminiscent of A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. 

And somewhere, somehow, elements of the chess game with Death in the Ingmar Bergman film The Seventh Seal.

At times metaphysical, the narrative is rich with philosophical one-liners and references to mankind’s role in the universe and here on earth, and is more than it first appears to be. A truly complex and rewarding read.

“When did you consider that people found themselves on this planet to avoid doing things that animals cannot help but do, such as expending one another? Does your subordination to an assumed or proven moral force justify your destroying in the name of righteousness?”

However, at times, the author and his opinions, surface above the actual storyline and I was aware too often of HC Turk’s voice, rather than Stan’s or Jimmy’s. Some scenes were a little repetitive in content and theme, and I think a little bit of editing here and there would make this a less sermon sounding, soap box diatribe on God, the universe and everything.

Verdict: 9 out of 10 TRB Stars. 

But, I thoroughly enjoyed the wackiness of this book. On the whole it is well written with an easy to read style that just flows. Theapocalyptic end-of-world scenario that we are not quite sure is true, held my attention to the end. The dark humour and the idea of people getting emails and texts that say we are all going to die is prophetic, because we are. This book has a message, one of wisdom and acceptance. Maybe the ending was a little too preachy for my tastes, but it is so funny, so clever, and so readable. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

black-divider-hi
Okay, let’s take all of these ratings and divide them by 3.

Overall, The Review Board gives A Book That Ends with Me a 7 out of 10 stars!

7stars

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KARR: Unleashed Speaks on A House Without Windows

ahousewithoutwindows

A House Without Windows
by Stevie Turner

Amazon|Amazon Author Page| Website

Greetings!  No Labels here!  In this installment of Kindle App Random Robin, I give an extended review on Stevie Turner’s A House Without Windows.

Why extended?

I already reviewed this book on behalf of another book club.  Yet, there are certain elements that I will expand on or add to.  On here, I can be a bit more detailed.  Detail is what I like.

So let’s get the show on the road!

The color scheme of the book cover was done wonderfully. The light bulb was a symbol of the torment Beth and Amy went through and the blend of the illumination and the shade of green gave it a creepy ambiance. Simple yet very effective.

This book could have easily been divided into a series based on the varying conflicts in the book and the character dynamics.  The author could have taken Amy’s narrative and made it into a separate novel. The same with Beth and Liam.  Even Joss’ and Evans’ narratives had novel characteristics.

However, the author opted to divide this into different parts. For me, the different parts told by different characters in the story really helped me to connect with them and explore each one’s dichotomy.  I really got a chance to spend time with the characters and develop strong feelings for each of them.

My favorite character was youthful Amy. She was smart, candid, and very brave. Quite a few moments I was in tears and cheered for her to have a wonderful outcome.

The character I mostly related to was Beth.  I haven’t been in a situation where I’ve been abducted, but I know of abuse and what impact it can have on you long after the physical is over with.  The psychological can linger for many years.  Beth thought she could do it on her own but that type of impact always bubbles to the surface.

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My feelings for Liam and Joss were conflicted but their flaws made them highly realistic.   I understand why Liam made the choice that he made–it was better for him to finally live in truth than to keep living a lie.  Joss was so caught up in the technical that he almost found out one lesson too late:  just because someone is linked to you by blood doesn’t mean he encompasses what family is all about.

I love this author’s flair for giving her characters complexity and her ability to have your emotions ride a variety of waves: encouragement, anger, despair–the whole gambit!

Niagra Falls at night

The author also took her time with describing various locations. I felt like I was learning geography and going on a vacation at the same time. The balance between dialogue, conflict, humor, and narrative was sharp and did not miss a beat. Pace never became sluggish during times of back story and that can be tricky with a work that deals with so much emotional, physical, and psychological topics.

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I first started reading Stevie’s work with The Porn Detective.  She was one of the first reviewed when The Review Board started taking open submissions fall of last year.

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My appreciation of Stevie’s work prompted me to get The Pilates Class. I reviewed it independently a while back in a previous KARR.

Verdict: 10 out of 10 TRB Stars

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As an author, Stevie has continued to impress. Just when you think she is at her peak, a “you haven’t seen anything yet” moment arises.

This is what A House Without Windows is for me. It has solidified this author as a permanent mainstay in my collection–both electronically and hopefully at some point, in paper form.

If you want a great blend of romance and psychological thriller, A House Without Windows is an ideal stop.  I highly recommend this work!

Thank you for checking out the Kindle App Random Robin segment of The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe, and comment.  Have a wonderful day!