Author Unleashed: September Author Spotlight Inge Borg

Inge H. Borg, Author
Inge H. Borg
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Blogs: Personal | Devil Winds
Twitter @AuthorBorg

Greetings everyone!  Unleashed here.  It has been quite a while since I’ve done an Author Spotlight.  It gives me great pleasure to sit down with Inge Borg and find out more about her and what she’s been up to since I last reviewed her work Shadow Sanctuary (now called Shadow Love) a little over a year ago.

Without further adieu, Author Unleashed with Inge Borg, one of our September spotlights.

1.  What was it like coming from Austria to America, particularly the Southern part of the States? Describe in detail the differences as well as similarities between your old home and current home.

I am a gypsy at heart. Having already lived in London, Paris and Moscow, being sent off to the States was enormously thrilling. My Viennese company knew that when they transferred me to Chicago. Nothing “southern” about that. The edict from up above was, “You! Gypsy! Be there next Tuesday!”

After three years, I got it into my head to move to Boston. Loved that town! Worked first for a prestigious law firm and then for the Museum of Fine Arts. Now, that was right up my alley with my silk suits and Italian high heels. But it was hard work (evening meetings, taking minutes —30 trustees arguing, curators pleading to fund their acquisitions—exhibition openings, documenting paintings with dicey provenance to a demanding international art community). There are similarities to some of that in Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea.

Then, I was lured to a tiny town in New Hampshire by a multi-national corporation and their fabulous salaries – acquiring a broad New England accent along the way. We had everything. The Mercedes fleet took execs to the waiting helicopter to be flown to the revving jet nearby. The manmade lake supporting swans and opportunistic foxes, while the company chef tried his best to expand the waistline. Somehow, I got to be in charge of the company’s center box at the Met (talk about dumb luck). With the N.E. weather, I couldn’t give those seats away. My little intrepid car put on many happy miles back and forth to New York, rain, sleet or snow. Except, one night, I racked up three tickets in three different states.

Finally, the cold got to me. I sold my little house and drove cross-country to San Diego where I hoped “they were waiting for me.” Somebody was, paid me well to boot. I then met a man with a boat. We spent six months sailing along the coasts of Mexico. (How it turned out is told in my slightly sarcastic poem “Pacific Ode,” in Moments of the Heart.)

The years flew by; suddenly, I thought of retiring (early). Once again, sold my townhouse, bought a sweet cottage I liked off the Internet. Trouble was it was in Arkansas. Drove halfway back across the country. This state reminds me of the southern part of Austria. Green serene meadows, huge lakes nestled against the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Not much traffic, and the people are really friendly (as long as you stay out of the hills where shotguns and hounds tend to discourage intruders).

2.  If you and I were to meet in person, what would be your take or suggestions in the following scenarios:

  • Where to go for a pleasing opera for a budding enthusiast

Definitely San Diego, with a glass of champagne afterwards at the Westgate Hotel (to let the parking garage empty out). I really miss San Diego as it has an excellent opera company. The more I treasure all the Great Performances I recorded on my (don’t choke) BETA tapes – being young, do you even know what those are? They still tick happily along (just like some of us old folks).

  • A wine to encourage relaxation and creativity

Have you ever met an Austrian who doesn’t like a good sip of wine? While it does encourage relaxation, I am afraid the creativity might suffer (unless one writes Erotica—which I don’t. I am strong on research. None of that available in this retirement community; and memories are beginning to fade a bit).

  • A location you’ve visited that you highly recommend and why

For that, I suggest we jet back to San Diego and choose a wonderful outdoor terrace right on the Pacific, the smell of the salt air, and the sound of the waves flirting with the rocks below. The seafood will be great, and before we know it, the sun begins to set over the water. (Unless you want to fly to Maui or Tahiti, favorite spots as well).

  • A poetry collection that you’ve been featured in that I should read

In my early days of writing (and submitting), I received special mentions in several poetry anthologies –from among those, I published my own Moments of the Heart, A Book of Poems and Short Prose.

3.  How did you get introduced and selected to perform professionally recorded readings, and what advice do you have for someone who wants to do audios of their works?

Actually, that came out of the anthologies I mentioned and – with my permission – they included my poems in those recordings. I was not part of the production (blame it on the accent). I have not delved into the possibility of audiobooks these days. That should best be left to the professionals and their specialized equipment. Many people do like to listen to books rather than read them, and it is definitely something to explore for someone whose books sell like hotcakes; so far, I am not in that particular bakery.

4.  Between poetry and novel writing, which one do you enjoy the most and why?

The best poetry often emerges from an unhappy soul yearning for love or bemoaning lost loves; as I am quite happy with myself these days, concocting plots for my novels comes a lot easier.

5.  Around the time I first read Shadow Sanctuary, you had experienced some unfortunate episodes of nonconstructive feedback and awful shelving with some of your works on Goodreads. How has this unscrupulous behavior of a small few impacted your view and use of Goodreads, as well as social media, on a whole?

At first, this prissy pearl-wearing lady was shocked at the crassness of the shelf-titles—there was never any “feedback” as such. I still have no clue how I got onto the radar of those poor misguided individuals. Miserable beings are simply an aberration of our society. One attacker finally got ousted from GR, but one of her minions still follows me, periodically re-dating her one-star on all my books (even the unpublished/superseded editions—well, duh). Readers are smart enough to realize that someone with 2270 one-star ratings (not reviews, mind you) is best to be ignored. Which I did and do.

I am still a member of several GR groups and over time have met such interesting writers and readers, made friends, and participated in some great discussions. The GR Librarians are always lifesavers helping with re-designed covers. While I am not on FB, I have two blogs and through some “hopping” have come to know fascinating people. When you can pick and choose, I choose the “kindred spirits” who love books as much as I do. The talent out there is mind-boggling.

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6.  I noticed that the title of Shadow Sanctuary has been changed to Shadow Love, as well as the cover. Do you think the new title and cover is well suited and what prompted you to change both?

That darn little novella has given me more grief than any of my long novels. First, it was “Clouds of the Heart” with a soppy cover. Then Shadow Sanctuary featuring a mountain chapel (from my father’s photography), then I changed that for dusky hills, and now this. Whatever comes of it, I am leaving it alone.

By the way, because of your constructive comments after reviewing Shadow Sanctuary, I endowed Monika with eye color, and rewrote some insipid scenes (remember the spaghetti conversation—yikes), while strengthening the ending as well. So you see, I do listen to my reviewers/readers.

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7.  Seeing pictures of your cat Pasha makes me think of my two cats, Colby and Franklin, who died a few years ago. They were adopted from an animal shelter. Give a bit of background on Pasha and how you came to write his story.

Greatest cat ever! He, too, came from the animal shelter. Dare I invite you to read his story in Pasha, From Animal Shelter to A Sheltered Home?

8.  I’ll definitely have to squeeze Pasha into my busy reading schedule.  By the way, congratulations for making the Historical Novel Society 2014 Indie short list for your work Khamsin! Tell us more about the work and why this HNS distinction is so significant.

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This came as a complete surprise; it was not something I had applied for. The prerequisite was to have been nominated previously as an Editor’s Choice by an HNS reviewer (which Khamsin was in August 2012). From that two-year list, they chose nine of us – now, that was thrilling as the other books are all awesome. Since then, four finalists were selected – alas, while Khamsin was not one of them, my book will still be displayed at the London Conference, and I was asked to contribute an article to their blog to be featured in September. So, it is not yet buried in the sands of the Sahara—for which I am grateful.

9.  How did you come up with Devil Winds as a title for your site?

Once I had a khamsin followed by a sirocco (both nasty sand-laden dervishes spawned in North Africa), the third title in the series was also going to be something windy, like “Southern Trades.” But – except for sailors – I felt it was too nebulous…hence, the After the Cataclysm title. Still, I thought the blog title was fitting (and hopefully intriguing).

10.  Do you think every author should attempt to write in multiple genres or is it more beneficial to stick with one genre and continuously aim to be the best in that field?

I am an “author reader.” Therefore, I want my favorite authors to come up with different genres/settings – although, these days, “same old, same old” seems to be the slyer marketing tool; it certainly sells better.

11.  What is your overall philosophy on life and does it make itself prevalent in any of your books?

Looking in the mirror, the person glaring back is “way past the blush of youth.” But in my heart, there is no timeline that weeps for “what has become of the nimble Austrian Mountain Goat.” I am still me.

While I have always been a rather solitary creature, I am really happy with myself, my life, and – of course, with Pasha (and let’s not forget Lilliput, my other Maine Coon). I no longer need the glitz and hassle of the big city. Living among the trees, on a big lake, within an astoundingly artistic community is the ticket for me now. But I’d be really ticked off if somebody messed up the Internet! It’s become the lifeline for my research, and lets me talk to my European cousins via Skype. What a great gift!

So much for the happy side. To make my novels interesting, I have to dream up some nasty stuff that’s far from my real life. Let’s hope it stays that way.

12.  Time to play a little C.P.A. (Characters, Plots, and All)! Give your best answer to the following probes based on your published works.

  • Characters your audience can most identify with
  1. For my historical fiction, that would be a bit of a stretch. Although, that being said, with questionable paternity, forbidden love, greed, adultery and murder, not much has changed.
  1. In Sirocco/Cataclysm, there is a lot of sailing going on and those who love boats and the sea can definitely identify with the joys and fears being on the open water.

3.  As to Shadow Love: I have been asked if it is autobiographical (NO! Not when the lady drinks a bit; she also goes somewhat off her rocker.) On the other hand, we all have dreamed of finding the perfect love at some point in our lives—just not through the bottle.

  • Plot that was the most difficult to write

Love scenes are—to me, definitely. Brought up in a discreet family, I am a strong believer in having the reader imagine what might be. Hence, I shy away from anything too explicit—because it’s tough to write that—and write it well.

  • Male character you would have a love affair with in real life

edward
Okay. We are not going to talk about handsome charming, delightful lying SOB Edward, Con Extraordinaire.

Now, Ramose, the High Priest in Khamsin, definitely fascinates me as such a wise and strong character—good-looking, too; but he is “forbidden fruit.” I’d settle on General Barum (although he already tussles with his desert mistress on soft lion pelts).

  • Exotic location you described with the most ease

“…the most ease” comes from a lot of research. All my locations a real; from the Rock Castle in Marblehead to the backpackers’ Boomerang Motel in Luxor, to private Necker Island (owned by Sir Richard Branson, by the way). In Khamsin, the old settlements were real ones as well. I love exotic locations (obviously).

  • Plot twist that was a surprise, even to you

In really liked Beir, King Aha’s royal steward. It was shocking when he turned traitor. Sadly, I had to deal with him as such, but how? And then it came to me: There are deadly creatures scudding over the desert sands…

  • Book that ended up with a different ending than expected

One of my patient reviewers got a bit impatient with my ending in Sirocco. He wrote “For heaven’s sake. I want Jonathan to be laid – not “dayed.” (He is a poet, so it had to rhyme). I changed the ending accordingly – which (having left Jonathan alive) happily led to Book 3.

  • Female character that is the polar opposite of you

Dare I say Dr. Naunet Wilkins né Klein (Sirocco and Cataclysm). She is exotically gorgeous, has achieved international recognition as an archeologist, and – she got her man (thanks to my reviewer). Oh, and I insist that we not forget Monika in Shadow Love!

  • Passage or excerpt that leaves you breathless each time you read it

A reviewer from the Underground Book Reviews wrote:

I’m sick of hearing agents and publishers disrespect the prologue. If written well, prologues work just fine. In fact, it was Sirocco’s intriguing prologue that snagged my attention. A few lines into Inge H. Borg’s thriller and I wanted to read more.”

I worked really hard on my three prologues—they set the tone, the time, the tempo. Anyone tries to mess with them, and I’ll slam into the poor soul like a German wrecking ball.

13.  What future work(s) do you have on the horizon?

Books 4 and 5 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab series:

“Crystal Cave” – modern-day sequel, playing out on Crete.

“Khepri, the Winged Scarab” – stand-alone pre-quel about the originators of the Legends and perhaps founders of Egypt’s Badari culture – 6,500 BC (May Horus help me to pull that one off).

14.  You are on a desert island.

(Couldn’t we make it more lush? Like somewhere in the South Pacific, please? I still have enough desert sand between my teeth from Khamsin and Sirocco.)

Okay, fair enough.  You are on the isle of Tonga.

  • Your one book would be?

Kobbe’s Opera Book – it’ll last me until I am rescued by Dirk Pitt or—even better—Clive Cussler himself.

  • Your one record would be?

Aida – Luciano Pavarotti as Radamès, Sherrill Milnes as Amonasro (what a handsome hunk), Joan Sutherland as Aida (greatest sounds you’ll ever hear). Oh, and perhaps Marti Talvela or Samuel Remy as Ramfis. I love a good bass. I have a great recording of Rigoletto with them – on a “real record,” too.

  • Your one luxury would be?

A gauzy sarong wafting in the soft breeze around my nicely bronzed body while I sip something cold from a coconut shell (I can dream, can’t I).

Unleashed: Yes you certainly can!  That sarong does sound kind of nice!

Inge: And there you have it. You really dug deep, young lady, to have me spout all my little secrets. You also did your homework with your poignant questions. I just hope you didn’t get more than you bargained for – as to me, I really appreciate the opportunity to let you and anyone interested to get to know me a little better. It was a pleasure and I thank you for having me.

Unleashed: Thank you for taking the time.  I’m sure the readers have enjoyed getting this opportunity.

This concludes the Author Unleahsed September Spotlight on The Review Board.  Likes, shares, subscribes, and comments are welcome. Have a terrific day!

Unleashed Speaks on The Universe Builders

theuniversebuilders

The Universe Builders by Steve Lebel
Amazon | Website

Greetings everyone!  Unleashed here to share her thoughts on The Universe Builders.  I first got wind of this title in a press release announcement I got via email.  The concept of this particular story intrigued me and I was moved to request a paperback copy for review.  I have always been a fan of having an actual book in my hand, simply because if electronics fail you, one can always reach for a paperback.

Note: This review is based on the paperback provided by the author and I really appreciate his willingness to do so.

There were so many things I enjoyed.  Oh where to begin!

  • Beautiful cover concept…great fusion of light and water. Colors really jump out against the muted teen in the backdrop

At first, the amount of chapters seemed intimidating.  Yet once I started reading, it felt like a breeze.  Although lots of chapters, they are very short and easy to read.

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The exceptional detail to Bernie’s overall composition really blew me away. I felt tremendous empathy from beginning to end.  The darkness of Billy was done expertly as well.  Billy`s sinister crafting made him that character I loved to hate.

In addition, I absolutely loved Suzie. She proved herself to be an incredible asset and one who is great to have in any corner.  Her makeup reminds me of a few of my female friends who have stood by me through thick and thin.  I was even a fan of a lot of the supplemental characters, particularly Sissy who had a language of her own.

In a world where certain story lines have just been repackaged, or even rewritten but using different names, The Universe Builder‘s concept was incredibly refreshing and unorthodox, terrific to see it unfolding because I could not predict what would happen next.  The story maintained its pace, and conflict, narrative and dialogue were well balanced.

If flaws were present, they were barely noticeable or not significant enough to deter from the overall story.

I also enjoyed the snippets of humor, which cut into moments when the tension in the story was becoming thick.

At the interim, I did worry a little about the amount of side stories being introduced.  Yet the author showed his versatility.  He did wonderfully at blending the side stories into the main story of Bernie coming into his own.  I was not left confused or debating what purpose one story served to the rest.  Each segment had meaning and that can be very difficult to pull off, whether one is a beginning author or an experienced novelist.

10stars

Unleashed Verdict: 10 TRB Stars

The Universe Builders is a reading delight that sparks the brain and touches the heart.  I highly recommend and was honored to read it.

Thank you for checking out The Review Board.  Feel free to like, share, subscribe and comment.  Have a terrific day!

The Harmonious Wordsmith of Controversy on Nick the Saint

nickthesaint

Nick the Saint by Anthony Szpak
Amazon | Twitter

Greetings! The Review Board here to give you our thoughts on Nick the Saint.  Before continuing, let’s give the Amazon blurb, provided by Wordsmith Andi:

Blurb via Amazon: America is in the throes of the Industrial Revolution. Profits are soaring as the country expands, but beneath the nation’s rise to power is the dirty secret of child labor. Forced to work endless hours in hazardous conditions, children are exploited and losing their lives. One man is willing to take a stand against the corruption and greed. Nick the Saint is the story of a vigilante fighting to protect the sons and daughters of New York.

First up, we have Harmony Kent!

harmonykent

Harmony’s Genre Classification: Fiction, YA, Humor

This is the story of Nick Klaus, born into a comfortable life: Then—it all goes wrong. His parents are killed, and he grows up in poverty and forced labour. There are many ups and downs in his life, and then he gets his chance for revenge. In exacting his retribution, Nick ends up doing a lot of good.

This is a new take on the story of Saint Nicholas, and as well as having darker and lighter moments, it also has a nice thread of humour running through it. I laughed aloud on more than one occasion. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and on the merits of entertainment alone, I would offer it Five stars. However . . .

The sad fact is that this excellent story is let down very badly by way too many spelling mistakes and missing words. Add to that the need for a thorough edit, and you are left with a book that is wanting. Sentence constructions are full of comma splices, missing commas where they really need to be, and commas in the most unlikely places. There are also unannounced Point Of View changes, which can be confusing at times. Especially when it happens right in the middle of dialogue—at one moment I am reading from inside Nick’s head, and then suddenly I realise I’ve been in Molly’s head for some time, so I have to go back and re-read it to get the sense of the scene again. Not good.

This sentence is a classic example of what a comma can do to change the sense: “Mr Limpnicky forked over the money to the orphans he’d saved by buying from Fergus,” Now, the author isn’t trying to tell us he’d saved the orphans by buying from Fergus (which is how it reads as it is), but rather that he’d saved the money by buying from Fergus, and forked this money over to the orphans. Putting a comma in here would help to clarify things a lot, but even with that in it would be a clumsy sentence and could be optimised.

On the flip side, there were some wonderful lines in the book: “Barnaby didn’t have a moral compass, or if he did, his thumb moved the needle until it pointed to ‘okey-dokey’.” This one really caught my attention and made me smile.

Towards the end of the book there is a major plot mistake—a certain character has badly injured his knee and ankle in a fall, and suddenly he “flew” up the stairs. And, he was carrying a child in his arms! Really?? Mmm.

Harmony’s Verdict:

6outof10harmony6 out of 10 TRB Stars

With the above mentioned amount of errors in a book, I would probably give it Two stars (on a standard 5 star scale). But the brilliance of the story rescues it from such ignominy. Taking the thing as a whole, I offer it Three out of Five stars, which translates into Six out of Ten stars on The Review Board’s rating system. With some editing and proofreading, this novel would achieve an easy five stars. I would read more of this author, and can only encourage him to take care of the proofing and editing in this otherwise wonderful YA Fiction novel.

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Now let’s see what the Wordsmith has to say:

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Andi’s genre classification: Action Adventure, Historical Fiction

Fresh on the heels of having read another holiday themed novel I was expecting yet another hackneyed take on the retelling of the story of Santa Claus and his origins. I was absolutely delighted and relieved to discover my initial expectations were so far from the mark I could have been in an entirely different country.

santa
While Nick the Saint is indeed an origin story for the fabled holiday icon, it takes a unique track in doing so, without all the pomp and circumstance that usually accompany such stories. Well researched and written, Nick the Saint delivers a story that romances and thrills, takes us on a breakneck pace of action packed plot, and draws the reader into emotionally investing in the characters and what happens to them.

As a reader I have to admit these are my favorite kinds of stories: the old given new twist and ultimate plausibility. I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness and so didn’t celebrate any holidays until I was ten years old. Therefore I never got that childlike wonder and connection to the big burly man dressed in red, with a white fluffy beard and congenial chipmunk cheeks below sparkling blue eyes. Instead, for me, Santa Claus has always been a marketer’s ploy to keep children in line with the promise of presents delivered. So when I began reading Nick the Saint I appreciated the story and Szpak’s approach to it immensely.

There is nothing mysterious or otherworldly about Szpak’s take on Santa’s origins. Every character in this story is brought to life with adroit writing – so much so that I still cannot stop thinking about them and eagerly await the sequel. Szpak uses the undeniable reality of cruel child labor during the Industrial Revolution as the more-than-plausible backdrop for the development of the iconic figure we’ve all come to know and love today. He puts together a plot that manages to explain every aspect of Santa Claus known to man – the association with the North Pole, why he has a white beard, dresses in red, has a big belly, loves children and delivers presents to them on Christmas. This story is so well done and believable I almost want to take this as gospel. Santa, or Saint Nick, was never from another world or endowed with magical talents nor did he employ an armada of toy making elves. Every single detail of Saint Nick comes out of the circumstances of his life as an escaped convict seeking to wreak havoc on the life of the man, Fergus Crank, who stole his childhood and eventually put him in prison when he could no longer control Nick.

Nick the Saint is a guaranteed winner in Szpak’s chosen genre(s). Of all the books I have read in 2014 thus far, this book ranks in the top ten. As mentioned earlier I am eagerly and anxiously awaiting the sequel to this book; Szpak sure knows how to keep his readers on the edges of their seats and craving more! I actually groaned and groused at the end of this reading because it just wasn’t enough – I didn’t want the book to end!

I was grateful for the opportunity to give this book the star rating it deserves: 10 out of 10.

blackdividerLast but certainly not least: Mr. Controversy

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Andrew’s genre classification: Action Adventure, Historical Fiction

 

Spoiler Alert

*Making it Known: MILD SPOILERS*

 

Anthony Szpak is the author off our 386-page Historical Fiction read, “Nick the Saint”.

 

Let’s Play “What If?”

I’ll Start:

What If Santa Claus was a New Yorker who was born and raised during the birth of the Industrial Revolution, and has ZERO Magical Powers or Properties?

This is a story about Nick Klaus, where his parents were killed in a tragic accident and is raised by his father’s second-in-command (and the ULTIMATE Definition of “Superior Antagonist”) Fergus Crank at Klaus Kandles during the beginning phases of the Industrial Revolution in New York City (AKA Manhattan).

 

Envision Fergus Crank as:

 

TF Prime Megatron and Starscream

-Megatron AND StarScream from “Transformers Prime” (due to egomaniac personalities),

 

Mola Ram

-Mola Ram from “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom” (due to child labor/slaves),

 

Rolan Daggett

-Roland Dagget from “Batman: The Animated Series” (due to his shrewd business acumen and complete disregard for life as long as his bottom line is met)

Emperor Palpatine

-Emperor Palpatine from the “Star Wars” movies (due to his influence),

Xerxes 300

-Xerxes (due to his vast wealth, even vaster arrogance and underestimation of others, and influence), and

Oswald Cobblepot

-Oswald Cobblepot (AKA “The Penguin”) from “Batman: Arkham City” (due to his POSSIBLE and Most Likely physical appearance, status in life [IN HIS MIND], and all our brutality).

Got those images and personalities?

Great: Multiply that by 5,000.

THAT is Fergus Crank.

 

 

Heart of GoldJust like his father, Nick has a Heart of Gold and compassion that is beyond anything the World has ever seen. In those qualities, you know that Nick is destined for Great Things.

 

Certain events offered and gave Nick a sense of clarity that, well…

 

Let’s just say that paths were traversed. At the same time, Nick’s core remained intact, but with a nice dose of edginess to keep the readers intrigued.

 

Envision Nick Klaus as:

 

Santa Claus

-Fit Santa Claus (due to the story NOT describing Nick Klaus as fat, his generosity, his sincerity, his capableness, and compassion),

 

Indiana Jones

-Indiana Jones (for his determination, his wise-assness, anti-child labor/slavery views, and bravery),

 

TF Prime Optimus Prime

 -Optimus Prime of “Transformers Prime” (this particular one because of that one episode where Optimus had his memories erased by Soundwave via order of Megatron. When said memories were recovered, HE KICKED ASS during the REMAINDER of the Series!!!),

Han Solo

-Han Solo (for his rebelliousness, wise-assness, and bravery),

Leonidas 300

-King Leonidas from “300” (due to his influence, strength, heart, and bravery against all odds), and

 

The Dark Knight

-Batman (The Dark Knight version due to his having gadgets [given the era.. well, read the book to find out], his inspiring influence, his stubbornness, and fear inducing abilities).

No Multipliers.

 

Nick’s undying feelings for his Love Interest Molly, which is coupled with his disdain and downright disgust and hatred for Crank, is his motivation to make things right between himself, Molly, and those around him after key events derailed their happiness.

 

Shrek and Donkey

Nick and Benny Tinkerton (a young and brilliant inventor whom Nick met during a Dark Period in Nick’s young life) have a “Shrek and Donkey” relationship: Nick being Shrek.

 

 

Child Labor2

Landscape

Child Labor3

 

A VERY CLEAR understanding as to why we have Child Labor Laws was painted onto these pages (along with kidnapping, child abuse, as well as other disgustingly crappy things).

*There is nothing wrong with your eyes, Ladies and Gentlemen. THIS REALLY HAPPENED.*

 

Also, many glimmers of American History are seen (Lincoln’s supposed truth of his demise, the history of The Underground Railroad, the aforementioned Industrial Revolution, etc.).

 

Graphic Content

It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that this story IS NOT for the Weak at Heart: it is GRAPHIC to the point where you will certainly envision how poor the conditions are/were during those times, the visualization of the people’s physical condition, and stopping to wipe tears WILL happen.

 

Especially in the 20’s Chapters going forward.

 

syntax

 

As I have ALWAYS said in every review, and extra pair of eyes would benefit greatly in all things that require editing and proofreading.

 

comma

 

There is indeed comma overkill, for my PDF copy of this read is riddled with red highlights for comma misuse.

 

Screenshot_2014-08-28-00-18-23 Screenshot_2014-08-28-00-18-27 Screenshot_2014-08-28-00-18-40 Screenshot_2014-08-28-00-18-44

 

There were missing words and misspellings as well (I.E.: “No,” Father Dawkins said, “but we have scale back.”, instead of “No,” Father Dawkins said, “but we have TO scale back,” as found on page 245. On page 298, “They man was watching crazy Mrs. Adilman with her two bowls of soup”, as opposed to “THE man was watching crazy Mrs. Adilman with her two bowls of soup.”).

 

Minor Characters2

 

Also, several minor characters were mentioned by name. This is perfectly fine, for as long as they have a key role in the story’s progression. Some minor characters could have remained nameless for they were not heard from again in the story.

 

As mentioned by our dear Harmony during her review:

“Towards the end of the book there is a major plot mistake—a certain character has badly injured his knee and ankle in a fall, and suddenly he “flew” up the stairs. And, he was carrying a child in his arms! Really?? Mmm.”

 

 

lifting-burning-car

 

I have seen this before. It is a Real Life Phenomenon called “Adrenaline Rush,” which is defined as “a sudden burst of energy from an increase in the hormone and neurotransmitter adrenaline, esp. increased heart rate and blood pressure, perspiration, blood sugar, and metabolism.”

Said Adrenaline Rush can AND has caused people to accomplish amazing feats.

 

 

Source: familyfeud

Source: familyfeud

Survey Says: 8.5 out of 10

 

 

When I received “Nick the Saint,” I read the first four paragraphs of this story and said to myself, “OH GOD: I AM GOING TO HAVE TO POWER THROUGH THIS BOOK!!!”

 

I knew as a reviewer, an author, a blogger, and all around writer, “Nick the Saint” DESERVES AND DESERVED a fair shot from me.

 

By the end of the first chapter, I am glad that I did.

 

Also, I spoke with Miss Labels about my snap judgment about “Nick the Saint,” where I told her that I was Wholly Wrong for passing judgment before the end of Chapter 1. I even told her that I would make it a point to purchase Mr. Szpak’s book from Amazon: NOT BECAUSE of Guilt, rather I thoroughly enjoyed his book. As long as Mr. Anthony Szpak has extra eyes on his work, I can GUARAN-DAMN-TEE that he will have a series unlike any other in our current time.

 

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I got my copy, my friend: Keep Writing.

 

The total stars given by our reviewers comes out to 24.5. Dividing this by 3…

 

8stars

 

Mathematically, the total star count is 8.17, yet rounded to an 8.

 

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

Unleashed Speaks on Harsh Decisions

harsholdcover

Amazon.com
Author Website
Facebook Page

Warning: Baby spoilers as examples of certain things pointed out in the book.

Note: This is based on the copy purchased from Amazon.

Hello!  Unleashed here to give my take on Harsh Decisions, the second installment to the Decisions Series, by Casey Harvell.  I gave my thoughts on the first book, Righteous Decisions, as part of The Review Board, which can be found here if you’d like to reference it: Righteous Decisions

harshdecisions
The Updated Cover

First let me give you some of the things I liked about the story:

  • There were a few lovable characters in the book.  My favorite were the parents, particularly all of the moms.
  • I definitely appreciated the growth in Chase’s character.
  • The pace in the story was quite steady.
  • I noticed that the cover had been updated.  The new cover definitely draws the eyes more.
There are some things that I think need a bit of polishing in Harsh Decisions.
confused-smiley
  • Yes, I do like the presence of conflict but I feel as if way too much had gotten squeezed in (saving Gabe, stopping an ongoing war, more layers of her past get revealed, birthing a revolution, pregnancy –just to name some of the many)
  • Lots of new characters are introduced to the fold.  It bordered on almost being too many to keep up with.
  • Main character development: Lettie has grown in power (think super god on Steroids) but still reverts back to previous behavior in the form of avoidance and being very judgmental.  Part of my disdain with Lettie is how she treats Chase.  Like in the first book, she is way too quick to believe the worse in him, after he is the main one who sacrifices time after time.
  • Where the author has accelerated growth in Lettie, she has remained content for Gabe to be the same, which I cannot understand in reference to the trauma he went through.
Source: thinkingtoinking.blogspot.com

Source: thinkingtoinking.blogspot.com

  • Despite the cover, I wish I knew more about what Lettie physically looked like.  Shay keeps saying that Lettie’s irresistible.  Show me in the physical description.  Make me believe it because I still can’t grasp (besides her powers) why these men are captivated by her.
  • Formatting is extremely flawed (font changed size in a number of places)
  • In many spots in the text, the long dash should have been used instead of the hyphen.  Also, there were some words that were hyphenated where the hyphen was not needed.
  • Excessive spacing in words in a number of chapters
  • Misplaced words or wrong word usages
  • Tense inconsistency (slipped from present tense to past tense) on a few occasions
  • Too much repetition over the urgency to save Gabe at the beginning.  It was almost as if the author thought we would forget about him.
6.5stars
Unleashed Verdict: 6.5 out of 10

Like the updated cover, I think the inside needs updating as well.  The author tried to cram too much conflict when only just a little would have sufficed–even if it meant extending the series beyond a set number.  The danger in presenting so many events is the author is going to have to keep track in getting this resolved in the third segment.  The core characters have exhibited growth but it is fragmented: Lettie–accelerated too much in some ways, not enough in others while Gabe hasn’t really gone beyond being super overbearing and at times, needy.  Another visit with the editor would benefit this book as well.  Editing, the overall story and characters must reflect smoothness from beginning to end so this can be a series worth continuing.

Thank you for checking out the Unleashed Speaks segment of The Review Board.  Feel free to like share and subscribe. Have a great day.

Unleashed Speaks on Elemental Earth

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Greetings everyone! Unleashed here to share her thoughts on Elemental Earth.  The author was kind enough to offer an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  Before I go further let me provide the blurb courtesy of Amazon:

“You turned the god of gnomes into a garden ornament?” 

Sarah looked closely, but couldn’t tell if her dad was annoyed or amused—perhaps he was both …

Whilst 15 year old Sarah may be struggling to regain her feet, after being ripped from her everyday mundane life and ending up in a whole new dimension, she still knows how to have a bit of fun along the way. The Earth Elemental isn’t the only one whose feathers she manages to ruffle, and it’s only been four days. Meanwhile, her best friend is missing, and big trouble is brewing. She soon has a lot more to worry about than what happened to her phone or iPod, or even how much of an idiot Caleb obviously thinks she is. 

Elemental Earth is the first book in The Mysteries series, and is aimed at Young Adults. Even if you’ve already reached an age where the young ones might call you ‘old enough’, if you’re still young at heart then you’re bound to enjoy these books just as much as the next—err—younger adult. 

Age aside, perhaps we should be more worried about what further havoc Sarah’s antics might be about to wreak on the universe as we know it? We’d probably all be sleeping a lot more soundly if she’d only stuck to applied maths and the odd pillow fight. But no, sadly the lure of the proverbial rabbit hole proved just a tad too much. And now she’s taken the plunge, there’s no turning back. 

This first book in the series did feel like a trip to the Rabbit Hole, yet it was much deeper than that.  It was an exploration into human interaction of the teenage kind.  The very kid that Sarah thinks is super strange is the key to bringing her closer to her true identity. There was never a dull moment in this work as one discovers new information in every page.

smiley-7

I applaud how well researched this book is as it pertains to colors and auras.  I’ve always been fascinated by the correlation between auras, colors, and how both connect with moods. There is also a conversation starter (or a pilot for debate) as it pertains to religion vs. spirituality.

Dialogue stayed in alignment with targeted age group and character mannerisms, which can serve as a challenge, particularly if you are used to writing more adult material and/or if it is your first attempt.

Character wise, I could identify with Sarah’s yearning for belonging.  She felt very realistic to me in her reaction, even those that sizzled with brattiness when coming to terms with her new life and responsibilities.  I was very sympathetic to Caleb’s plight as it pertained to prophecy vs. how he wanted to live his life.  Different dimensions to each character kept the pages turning.  I also found the different elements that were drawn to Sarah very helpful and amusing.

Confused Ramsay

I felt slightly torn about the conclusion.  It felt a bit abrupt, but not as jarring as other series I’ve read.  Yet it did set up for the next installment very nicely.  In the end, the latter overruled my feelings about the staccato resolution.

syntax

In my particular copy, there were some tiny editing misses but they didn’t deter from my read:

  • “Maybe we we’re stupid to put our trust in you.” (should be “were” instead of the conjunction form for “we are”)
  • “Even if you’d had your whole life to get ready for this, this amount of influence would have been near impossible to cope with and adjust to.” (Although not erroneous, per se, I’m not a fan of the double “had”–in the form of you had had )
  • A few spots had weird spacing (not sure if that is on Kindle’s end or not)
Star Rating-10
Unleashed Verdict: 10 TRB Stars
thumbsup

With Elemental Earth, this author has definitely found her stride–a glorious mix of adventure and discovery mixed with connective real struggles that a young adult can relate to: all achieved in natural symmetry.  This work also speaks to the inner kid of any adult.  I look forward to more in the series.

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

Mini Truth on Try Not to Die at Grandma’s House

trynottodieTry Not to Die: At Grandma’s House
by Mark Tullius & Anthony Szpak
Amazon
Mark Tullius Amazon Author Page
Anthony Szpak Amazon Author Page

Genre: Teen/YA Horror

Greetings!  The Review Board is here to share it’s take (Truthful Takes, that is) on Try Not to Die: At Grandma’s House.  Without further delay, here is Mini Truth:

minitruthbanner

Truthful Takes

Try Not to Die: At Grandma’s House is the story of a young man named David and his family. It’s a tragedy and an adventure. It’s also a “create your own story” book. Unfortunately, I do not know the actual name of the genre. It’s a youth and young adult story, written in first person, present tense.

The premise: At first we find David and his family in a debate. David has a strong albeit precocious voice. The authors succeeded in portraying his personality well in the prose. Mom, Dad, David and little sister Samantha are debating as to who should drive the car. After much deliberation Dad takes the wheel. This choice will ultimately lead to a tragic accident–that’s when the adventure begins.

After the plot is set, the author takes you on a round and round journey of cause and effect.

thinking face
To me, this is one of those books that has me torn. I by no means disliked it, however I have some feelings and thoughts about how it could have been better.

Following are my thoughts on the story in the form of Pros & Cons.

Let’s start with the Cons:

Choices

1) My number one strife with the story was that I felt like the “freedom of choice” aspect wasn’t properly portrayed.

Now, this could most certainly just be a ”Me Thing”. I am most definitely not an expert in this genre. However, the way I look at it, if this is a story of cause and effect that the author should have stood true to that.

Time and time again, at the end of each chapter the reader was given the option to make a choice. Contingent on the choice that the reader makes a specific scenario would follow–this was good. What I did not like was that if by some chance there was an accident at the end of that chapter then the author would redirect the reader to the previous chapter and coax them to make another choice.

reset

Here is the conundrum in my opinion: If a certain choice is made then the reader should be given the option to continue from there and follow the story through without having to go back and make another choice.

In life, whatever choices we make cannot be undone. Therefore we must carry on.

The missed opportunity here was that the author slacked on the potential of giving the books several different endings, thus truly offering the story the opportunity to be read time and time again with various different outcomes.

2) Personally I’m not an advocate of first person, present tense. There is something about that writing style that I feel lowers the quality of literature. It reminds me of the books we used to read in kindergarten:

“I am John. I have a dog. I play with my dog. See my dog run.”

I honestly feel like the story was done an injustice there.

3) While the story was meant to be a graphic novel, there wasn’t much in the way of graphics.

Source: troll.me

Source: troll.me

Typically graphic novels are supposed to have lots of imagery, liken to a comic book.

Well, the way I saw it, this book only offered images in the segments where the author didn’t quite nail the written explanation.

I felt as though whatever images were incorporated were more for a “show and tell” purpose.

“I can’t really tell you, or explain to you what I mean, so here is a random picture to help you figure it out.”

There was really only one image every two to three chapters.

4) While the characters were well developed, some of the were too predictable and unoriginal. Mostly the grandparents.

Time for the Pros:

1) Character development was great. Once could see the progression of each character.

2) The writing syntax was fairly immaculate. I only found one mistake.

3) The story was engaging and kept you reading.

4) The images, while few, were very nice and professional grade.

5) While the choices were limited and some of them ultimately led you back to make another choice, the author never failed in making it adventurous. The hook was good.

6) Some of the misadventures were sort of funny. You’d wind up thinking to yourself “Wow. I didn’t expect THAT to happen!”

7) This would be the perfect story to read if you’re a person with a Gamer mentality, as in essence it WAS definitely more of a game. As the title implies “Try Not to Die”.

7starsTruth (and overall TRB) Verdict: 7 out of 10 Stars

In summary, this story was good and entertaining, as any good Youth/YA story should be. I do recommend it if you are not completely opposed to the things I mentioned.

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