Thursday, January 23, 2014

The League of Super Heroes, Rise of the Super Villain by Celeste Ayers

Very short, lightning fast read. Pretty sure this is either fan fic or something similar. A party game book? Based on a game? It's a first for me - how ever it may be classified. This is the first of several short novellas.
The story:
Reminiscent of the nineteen fifties comic books, this story has the feel and style of an earlier world. It's the culture of super heroes and dime store novels. The real super heroes and villains are men, the women are decor. And before anyone jumps up to point out that Ghost Girl is a super hero - well, sure she is. But she is also a looker and (not surprisingly) has to get rescued. In spite of her cool and highly useful super power. When I read it, I was reminded of watching early 1970s cartoons and that live action Batman show with Adam West when I was a kid. It's that kind of culture that comes through - minus of course the sound effects like 'biff' and 'kerpow' when the action happens.

I'm really not criticizing. This is a super hero/ super villain face off with characters named Justice, Freeze, Ghost Girl, Explosion Man, Muscle Man.. You get the picture.

So how should I rate it? Maybe with a big fist and an exploding guy. It's hard to say. The writing was okay, the story okay... for a very comic booky tale without the graphics (at least my epub version didn't have any). I have to admit I was expecting graphics as the book was found in the fiction sub genre - comics and graphic novels. It was also listed under party games and role playing. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Great cover though. The book is based on or written for a role playing game of which I am unaware.  I recommend it to those with a personal preference for that sort of thing.

The synopsis from Smashwords:
A super hero died last night, it looks like someone is out for blood. The super heroes thought they were safe. They thought wrong. Darkness lurks in the shadows, a darkness the heroes could never see coming. Is there a new threat on the horizon or has one of their own stepped over to a darker path? Super hero and super villain are about to collide in an all out war that will see friends parted and new alliances made.

League of Super Heroes: Rise of the Villain is a story based on the hit party game by Celeste Ayers.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Bone Cell - Richard Futch

The real synopsis (from Smashwords):

A spooky dream of a gigantic crow and an old, crumbling church in the lost reaches of a forest. A hint of mystery, murder and mayhem in dark underground passages. A poor magician and his little girl, surrounded and harassed by a group of mad trappers…

These are the visions that bring Ian and Connor to the site of their abandoned tree house where, unsurprisingly, the crow awaits. As they sit in the embrace of the crow’s eerie time knot, the strange bird tells them a nearly two-hundred-year-old story of how a town and great church came to be and of the misery that befell it. Of how the church became home to many animals and birds, and of the massive oak that had since grown up through the floor and slowly engulfed the church’s remains. But now the tree has begun to wither and an avalanche of death will soon follow. The two boys are the crow’s only remaining hope because of an innate talent they have been diligently hiding. They will be required to walk into the teeth of an old crime that has gone years unpaid, and of course the crow cannot promise that they will not be swept up in the flood of danger and madness that is fast approaching. Because something has changed in The Bone Cell and Connor and Ian are the only ones who can do anything about it.

It really has a great cover. Coupled with the short synopsis (I really should have read the whole thing) and the fact that it was free, I picked this one up quickly. It's for a very young teen or middle grade audience. It's also very short and can be read quickly. It promises action and the writing is very simple. I think that sums up the positive things I can say. I wish I could be nicer in this review, but in all honesty I genuinely hope this version of the book gets edited and revised. It has potential.

If you decide to read this version of the book, don't stop at the short synopsis for the book. Read the whole thing. The one I pasted up there from Smashwords. The story is - and I kid you not - more than two thirds the crow's narration of a long ago trouble that befell him and others. It's a story about the crow, a mouse, a Fat Man, a Church, a tree, a Magician and his daughter, a cat, a spider, bad people... Unfortunately, it's filled with unnecessary details and sidelines that make it confusing. It really is two thirds of the way through the story before the reader even finds out what the crow wants from the boys (Ian and Connor).

The last quarter of the story - the part described by the short synopsis - is better. The boys finally get their dangerous adventure - although they admit that after all that story telling, it's a bit of a let down.

I really hate being negative on indie reviews - I know it's not easy to go out there and publish your work. However, I do think the story has potential. It just needs to be reworked and edited properly. Particularly while reading the crow's story, the entire first two thirds of this short novel, there's  a good chance that the reader will give up. If the author just revamped the story, maybe by deleting a substantial amount of the first part or if it gets broken it up with present day action (not just the characters interrupting the crow during the story telling) - it would make a much more appealing fantasy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hallowed (Waters Dark and Deep #1)Hallowed by Monica Leonelle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here's an excerpt taken from the synopsis on Goodreads:  

Brie van Rossum has always been the baby of the family, until she discovers that she is a Hallow, a descendant of humans and archangels. Oh, and that everything her mother has ever told her is a lie...
Pilot van Rossum feels like his life is spinning out of control. His mother has passed away recently, his family is constantly hounded by the media, and he can’t figure out how to control his younger sister...

A broken family, a deadly secret, an impossible romance… Hallowed is the first book in Waters Dark and Deep, a sexy new young adult urban fantasy series by Monica Leonelle (recommended for mature teens 14+).

For a novella that I just happened to find by accident, I was impressed. The story is well developed and offers a different view of the angel/demon/human eternal war and relationship type of story that is quite popular in YA fiction. The introduction to the characters and setting - particularly in the first chapter with Thessa and the underground city created for and by Hallows was very well done and pulls the reader in. It's short but not too short - great for a quick e-read. Once the story gets going, the reader gets introduced to Brie and Pilot, siblings who move to Hawaii to live with their estranged rock star father after their mother is killed. The bulk of the story then follows Brie and Pilot and their struggle with their new situation, complicated by Brie's discovery that she has Hallow powers. The teens are gradually pulled into a world influenced by Hallows, the children of angels and humans, and the Nephilim, the children of demons and humans. The story is just beginning in this book, but it has promise.

When I picked it up it was free - so I really have no complaints at all.Yes there were things missed during editing but it's hardly worth mentioning anymore. I haven't had a single ebook without errors so far. It's available at all the usual ebook outlets - Amazon, B&N, etc. but I picked my copy up at Smashwords. Worth checking out.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dead Again by George Magnum

In the abscence of stars, this is my overall rating. It's not bad, I'll admit, but it's also not going on to a favorites shelf. Not to say anything against a good zombie tromp... I love a good zombie horror story. Unfortunately it's getting harder to find a good, original zombie broohaha. I'm always wishing I'll find
Dead Againthat next rotten gem, but sadly, it's just not meant to be... yet.

I'm not going to trash the book - surely it will appeal to many. And by that, I'm really thinking men. Or young males. Maybe I should qualify that a little further. Young males who really can't get enough zombie horror and play endless zombie brawling campaigns on an Xbox. Or PS3. PS4. Maybe Steam. In fact, my overall feeling was that the story could have been something that mutated out of excessive game playing. And as much as I really wanted to like this, it just kind of stuck in my 'meh' zone.

None of this is to say it's bad. The writing was okay. There was a heap of action. There were Zombies. Military stuff. Betrayal. Characters (yes - the called back into action type to form an elite team). And a really nice cover. Okay, so it was the cover that grabbed me. And then there's that cliff hanger ending. It's meant to make you buy the next installment. Again - it's not a bad thing if you really liked the book. And even if I try, I really can't be too hard on a free book.

For those of you who really love zombies, platform or computer gaming and stories that really feel generated from a young male point of view, here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Black Hawk chopper banked a hard turn, rotors thumping, providing a bird’s eye view of the burning landscape. Commander Peterson couldn’t help wondering what people around the world thought of this apocalypse. Maybe they accepted it as a biological infection. Maybe some believed a curse had descended upon the world, that this was the end of days. Maybe some already realized the inevitable, horrible truth: only the strongest would survive.

Within forty eight hours, it had become a global pandemic. There was no explanation. The dead were rising, returning to life, and devouring the living. Commander Peterson, leader of the most elite fighting unit in the U.S. armed forces, was assigned one, last final mission.

In his worst nightmares he never could have imagined this unholy war, or that he and his team were to become the one last hope that still remained….

Unleashed by Tempest C. Avery. A YA paranormal romance, book 2

Unleashed (Underworld, #2)
Spencer Perry has everything she asked for - her soul mate boyfriend returned to the living. All it took was a trip to the Underworld and a dubitable deal with a god. Now Spencer must pay her debt to that god by spending time with him in the Underworld, or Hades, the namesake she'd learned in school. It's a situation that complicates her relationship with her boyfriend Micah and fosters new feelings for the god Hadrian. It also places her in a situation akin to that of a Greek myth - Spencer's own story seems a little like that of the myth of Orpheus, a little bit the myth of Persephone. But as Spencer has discovered, myths can be distorted. The self proclaimed Queen of the Underworld wasn't some innocent maiden stolen away and forced to remain in the land of the dead for part of a year. Persephone was a monster. And she's a monster determined to destroy Spencer.

It took me far too long to get to this one. I originally intended to do this months ago because I enjoyed the first in the series, Unhinged. But in reality, when I picked this one up... months ago (and I actually paid for it), I was really buying it for my daughter. She was the one who just had to find out what was going to happen next.

Although I really enjoyed the first book, I have to be honest in that I wasn't as thrilled with this one. It is a continuation from where Unhinged left off - Spencer is still clearly in danger and the once perfect relationship she had with Micah might not be so perfect now that he's resurrected and among the living. For me though, it wasn't quite enough. Sure, some of the hanging threads at the end of Unhinged were tied up in Unleashed, and of course some new ones were created so we can look forward to book three. The story did continue, but I have to admit I was expecting more actual story in this one than I found. Don't get me wrong - it was okay and it does get moving in the second half- but there was far too much storytelling time spent on emotional recapping and one character admiring another but thinking it was wrong. It started to feel repetitive. There weren't really any new emotions or relationship dilemmas with the Spencer/Micah/Hadrian situation - until almost the end. On the positive side though, there was a little more going on with the minor characters.

Overall, I liked the story but the four star rating is more my daughter's. I did buy the ebook and at $2.99 I'm not complaining. It was worth it. Sure there were a few editorial things overlooked, but considering I have shelled out a whole lot more for traditionally published books (as ebooks) and found a similar amount of mistakes, it's nothing. When I pay more than $10 for an ebook that has errors (and so far I haven't read an ebook without some kind of error or errors), I totally feel ripped off. Particularly if I think the story is only okay. So for a $2.99 book with a few mistakes and a story I still enjoyed - Unleashed gets my recommendation.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What's up for January 2014

 Got my list, and checking it twice, I'll read these books whether naughty or nice. Seriously though, Christmas is long over, it's 2014 and time to prioritize. So this is a list of indie reads I'm planning to read and review in the upcoming weeks. Stars or no stars.

It's been a long time now since I've picked up a truly good indie. It could be that I'm just looking in all the wrong places, or maybe my luck just fizzled in 2013. I've picked up free books and paid for others. I've read most, but some were remarkably unbearable and had to be abandoned. Regardless, it's time to get back to reviewing - but this time - good or bad the book will get some kind of review. I apologize in advance for not sticking to the 4 or 5 star reads format. But as you know, sometimes we get into reading slumps - that stack of books we've read but we don't have the heart to review because no matter how deep we dig, there's nothing positive review-wise in those pages.

So here's the book order for the next little while:

Unleashed by Tempest C. Avery, 2013 YA (the sequel to Unhinged) - currently reading
Dead Again by George Magnum (book 1, short), zombie horror
The Bone Cell by Richard Futch, December 2013 (short), MG/young YA, mystery/fantasy
Hallowed (Waters Dark and Deep 1), 2013 by Monica Leonelle
Spear Bearer by Stephen Clary, 2010 YA - (book 1)
Imperfect by Tina Chan, 2013
League of Superheroes, Rise of the Villain Book 1 by Celeste Ayers, 2013 (book 1, a short novella)

I will stick to the YA, thriller and horror genres as much as possible - but action adventure will undoubtedly sneak it's way in. In the meantime, I'll also be distracting myself with best sellers - sometimes I just can't help it. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson is beckoning me at the moment. And so far, it's a page flipping tale of revenge with plenty of super villain action. I'm reluctant to put it down. It's a highly enjoyable YA.