The Euclidian: Alien Hitman, by Jay Cannon

12_17_15 Alien Hitman

4 stars

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Left alone on Earth to retrieve alien fugitives, Adar quickly put to use a very unique method to tracking his quarry. An alien himself, his options are severely limited.

 

Adar felt a bit like Captain Kirk as he navigated his way through life on Earth (and its women). Smooth, for the most part. Purposeful. Always got the girl. Only, Adar loved to kill and smash. He was smart, however, and yet lacked empathy at the beginning. The human race has an excellent track record of assisting the development of this kind of character. Noticeable at the end, the friends Adar made along the way really opened his eyes.

 

There was a very intergalactic united front. Various kinds of aliens from different planets worked together cohesively. Earth is, of course, the exception. Earth is always the exception. It blended many different sci-fi tropes into one novel. Some were relatively cliché, but there were a few that had very nice twists to them. One thing I had an issue with was how easily people accepted aliens into their midst. Sure, it helped the plot right along, but it felt too easy in places.

 

Writing style wasn’t bad. The pacing of the novel fit the way the story unfolded. There was lots of action and the wording fit that. I liked the way the characters dealt with each other. Characters themselves were certainly a different breed, but I liked it. The author managed to take heavy stereotypes and made them meaningful. A female character wasn’t hypersexual because she had daddy issues—she just enjoyed it. There was a different kind of depth to the characters that made them stand out.

 

Alien Hitman is a sci-fi novel with non-traditional overtones. It was pretty well-written, and managed to show the reader just why moral grey areas are such quandaries. There was a cast of great characters, and all the action a reader could want.

 

Buy it here!

 

 

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A Guardian Falls, by Rebecca Tran

12_6_17 A Guardian Falls

4 stars

 

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Fulfilling prophecies seems to be Mara’s talent in life as she becomes the Rashade’ of legend and continues to defy the role set forth by her gender. She returns with a familiar cast of characters in the final showdown with Laran.

The writing style is consistent between both novels, as are the characters. However, with the way that the recaps are paced, the reader might spend a little time wondering how things got to where they are if they haven’t read the first novel.

Thankfully the relationships were already established in the first one, so the timelines for their progression made little difference in this one. Things didn’t move too fast or slow.

While most series tend to aim for a trilogy to share their whole story and characters, A Guardian Falls was a two-parter. There was a lot of information contained within both of them. It never felt like an overload or “too much.” The world felt complete and constant. Everything felt wrapped up nice, except for maybe one little thing. Attention to detail certainly showed.

There’s a small amount of technical editing to be done, but the story was solid. It climaxed and resolved in a manner that made sense and was consistent with the fantasy genre. It was a relatively predictable ending that didn’t detract from the overall narrative.

It was a standard fantasy novel that did quite a bit to challenge traditional gender roles. I liked that very much. It empowered women, and those tradition challenges—while simple—made a powerful statement without starting controversy.

As far as series go, this is a good one to pick up. A blend of traditional and nontraditional fantasy that is well put-together and consistent from start to finish.

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What I Learned During NaNoWriMo

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So, with November behind us, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) is behind us as well. I really want to take a few minutes and discuss just what I learned in such a short amount of time.

I think that as an author, there are many concepts of which we are aware of–things that we see written in every advice column. Things like: “write what you know,” “show, don’t tell,” and “don’t use adverbs/passive voice.” Sounds familiar, right? With rules like those, it’s no wonder that so many authors get intimidated before they can get a single word down; some level of perfection is required of a rough draft. Perfection? From a rough draft? Looking back, it strikes me as one of the most ridiculous concepts, and I can’t believe I thought that was actually a thing.


 

WORD VOMIT IS A GOOD THING

From 6 of the Best Pieces of Advice from Successful Writers:

[…] writing well doesn’t come so easily for a lot of us (including me). It takes a lot of mental energy, strains your working memory and often makes you feel vulnerable if you try to be open and honest in your work.

The pure effort of writing is hard enough, but coupled with the pain of putting your work out into the world and letting others judge it, this can be enough to stop you from getting started at all.

The trick to overcoming this isn’t easy, but it’s surprisingly effective: give yourself permission to write badly, and just start.

I would honestly give the links provided above a look-through. All three articles were very relevant and helpful.

Below is an excellent example of ‘give yourself permission to write badly.’ I did it using my phone, which I later e-mailed to myself. This will make you feel better about yourself, guaranteed.

ex_realybadwordvomit

Oh, man. That’s terrible on so many levels. However, it is the result of just getting the words out. I didn’t give a lick about punctuation, spelling, or even what words emerged. As long as the basic concept was written out, I stopped caring. The time-crunch associated with NaNo puts enough pressure on you that caring becomes too much effort. Additionally, the more you care, the slower your word count will come. 50,000 is already an intimidating number, you don’t want to slow the process down any more than you have to.

To be honest, this might be the single, most important thing that I learned. With your aspirations as an author, your work is going to be seen by millions, right? Sure, they’re going to see your best effort, but the people working with you to get you there will be seeing your worst. You need to get comfortable with that, and this is a good way to start. Now, not everyone can flip that switch in their brain to just stop caring. For some people, it’s nearly impossible.

If you’re someone that is bothered by the thought of someone reading over your shoulder while you’re spewing out this absolute garbage, take your phone and hide in a corner where no one can see you unless they’re actively trying. And even then, you’ll easily be aware of it. Writing on your phone can be a pain (hence part of the reason why the excerpt just sort of runs together), so I found a few nifty apps to help me out. Please note: I’m not being compensated for the following.

wersmith
Werdsmith

Werdsmith is the one I use most often. It does have a “pro” version which gives you access to different layouts (screenplay, novel), and categories to sort your different projects. However just the vanilla version is fine for me, as the singular category that I have allows me to have multiple projects within, just in a less organized manner. It keeps track of word count (which really came in handy). You can set word goals, get breakdowns, and even an undo button in case you accidentally delete everything (I can’t tell you how many times that’s saved me).

Now, go figure, the one I use the least is the one that I paid for. Writing Toolkit is $3.99 in the app store, but this one is more of a portable literary reference guide.

It’s got lots of nifty little tools for where you’re on the go or don’t have access to the internet. Writing terms, a place to organize your characters, and plot devices are all available in one place. This one’s more dedicated to keeping track of everything you need while you’re writing so you can focus on more important things: like writing. I flipped back and forth between the two the entire time. Using these apps kept prying eyes away from my really crappy writing and therefore gave me a bit more confidence to keep going.

You can always use a notebook or a laptop towards the same end, but as I quickly learned, it’s easier to keep your phone away from nosy passerby. It took me a few days to acclimate to being so secretive. Eventually, though, I found that without anyone looking over my shoulder, I could just write, write, and write. The very last day was a word sprint of approximately 5,000 words. It wasn’t the only day I had word sprints like that, either.

The point is: JUST GET IT OUT! Is it relevant to the plot? No clue. Sort it out later. Is it what you wanted? Not really, but it’s a good placeholder. Hell, you might not even end up using it, which is okay. Quite a few difficulties authors face are in their heads, and are usually the hardest things to overcome. IT. WILL. BE. OKAY.

In the next blog post for the NaNoWriMo series, I’ll talk about the hangups of editing.

UP NEXT: WHY EDITING IS THE DEVIL

 

Was this information useful to you? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

J159, by Renee Logan

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*one of these days I’ll remember that Patreon isn’t cooperating on mobile and I’ll upload from home instead*

The pure juror system is designed to keep any kind of bias or if the ‘trial by peers’ mentality. If selected, you’re moved to a facility and isolated for years, on the premise that you’ll be released when your allotted time is up. Corruption runs deep, however. And jurors don’t always get what they want.

J159 was written entirely from Eddie’s point of view. With that, the author challenges themselves to get the entire story across using, essentially, one person and one setting. Kind of like the first Saw movie. There’s significantly less action and suspense, but it still tells a good story. And that’s what this novel focuses more on: the story. It moves a bit slow in the beginning, but after the halfway mark, things pick up a bit with tension and suspense.

The entire thing is at least well-written, and populated with just enough foreshadowing to hold your attention through the slow times. I enjoyed the way the entire thing was orchestrated. The reader really got to know Eddie as a character. The reader gets a really interesting and—might I add—isolated, unbiased view of the overall setting and state of the world. Showing, not telling was expertly used throughout the novel, and so the reader is able to use their own imagination to piece together the outside, instead of handing it to them on a platter.

A novel set this way is going to have inevitable lulls and boring exposition. It happens. There are very clear attempts by the author to make these as painless as possible. I really liked the ending. It felt very fitting to the rest of the narrative, and contains allusions to current events. Definitely worth a read.

Buy it here!

PsychKick, by Mark Marks

*Patreon is still not cooperating with mobile, and I completely forgot to upload from my laptop. That will be up later tonight after I get home*

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What would you do if there was a controversial operation that could save you kids life, but the consequences are unknown? You’d take it, right?

Well, that’s what Dr. Hill does for his friends, the Fullers, after an accident leaves little Ben with little to no chance of survival. Then the side-effects start, and the doctor disappears…now what?

PsychKick is definitely paced differently from the author’s other novels. There’s a bit more effort dedicated to characters and making them meaningful to the reader. There’s quite a bit of buildup to the main story, no matter how repetitious it was. There’s was a dramatic increase in the amount of detail that went into showing the story. After that, things smoothed out and kind of took off.

However, this novel does hit some of the pitfalls the other novels succumb to. Things feel rushed. Everything is still direct and to the point.

There’s a lot of perspective switching, but no clear indication or breaks with the current format. The reader will be engross in the Fullers’ lives, and suddenly they’re with the good doctor and his assistant. It’s jarring and breaks the immersion.

Once again. There’s a lot of good ideas. But this one so far is the best to convey these ideas in a way that connects with the reader. There’s more depth to t. Still very rough around the edges, but there is noticeable progression from the author. The ending was a little weird and unclear, and I want to get behind it because I like the connotations that could possibly be behind it, but it felt out of place. Perhaps give a little extra information as to what happened, and possibly a better hint as to the meaning.

There’s definite change and improvement in the author’s writing style. There’s still improvements to be made, but this feels like the polished of the four I’ve read from this author.

Buy it here!

The Artifactor, by Mark Marks 



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*currently, Patreon isn’t letting me upload photos from mobile. The review for this will be posted there later on*

One thing that’s huge to me in novels is diversity. That goes for characters, settings, conflicts—literally everything. A modern-day treasure hunting story is set in Israel during a time of conflict was a good setup. So far, for all the novels I’ve read from this author, their settings vary quite a bit, as do their conflicts and people. 

After becoming celebrities when a treasure quest goes wrong, Solomon and David go on a series of adventures to bring glorious things back to Israel. 

While there’s plenty of conflict and action to go around, I really felt like things were too easy for the main characters. They never really failed at anything. They were embroiled deep in the conflict, but they felt only mildly inconvenienced by it. The ease at which things happened made things boring at times. 

Again, the author has a fast-paced narrative. This didn’t leave much time to get to know the characters as people. Even more so, the time jumps didn’t allow much for developing relationships, and so they felt cobbled together and just sort of thrown in there. There’s little impact on the story. 

Story continuity was pretty good, and the author has a unique talent for uplifting, powerful messages aimed at a younger audience. Things still felt very rough around the edges. There’s some technical editing needed as well. This is a consistent author. 

Needs some work overall, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve read. I think with some solid revisions this could pop. 

Buy it here!

In Mortality, by Mark Marks



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On a mission in the jungle, Thomas Rex and two compatriots, stumble upon a discovery that could change the entire world. They risk life and limb—sometimes literally—to bring it back and study it. 

This was a fast-paced adventure geared towards a younger audience. However, I feel like the style and word choice didn’t really coincide with the target audience. There’s a significant lack of description and almost all telling without showing. That was consistent in a style that’s for younger audiences. I feel like word choice was a bit more sophisticated than it should have been. 

Being so fast-paced and shallow, there wasn’t a whole lot to the characters. It was difficult to sympathize and care about their struggles because the narrative focused on getting everything out. I was really disappointed with his two of the scientist were left as strictly comic relief in the most embarrassing manner. I felt like they contributed very little to the store except as convenient and silly plot devices. That aided, I think, in the disconnect between reader and characters. 

That being said, the premise of the story itself was good. The author had a lot of good ideas; execution was lacking. I liked how things were meant for the betterment of humanity. There’s a very positive tone to the storytelling, which gives a faux sense of hope that maybe one day things won’t be so bad. 

Buy it here!

Loading: Life, by E. N. Chaffin

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The premise of a preternatural, video game-esque narrative is one that isn’t always done too well. However, in Loading Life, real world and video games mesh together excellently. 

Hero, the downtrodden, troublemaking main character without a special ability, is paired with Annie Mei, top student, for a project that will allow him to pass a class in school. From there his life gets weirder and more malicious, while he himself grows as a person. 

Now, usually when the main character is a delinquent, or made out to be something of an uncontrollable statistic, they’re inherently abusive in one way or another. In Loading Life, the author takes a different approach. Sure, Hero is a butthead, but he doesn’t abuse his friends or Annie, especially. Not using her as a sounding board was a huge deal for me. Therefore, when Hero’s character development came, he learned he didn’t need to be scared and run away. He learned he could ask for help. He wasn’t given up on and tossed aside like so many wanted to do. He was still a butthead, but it turned into friendly banter. Character development was huge in this novel for almost every character, even the minor ones, like the guys in the gang. The reader also go to know the characters well without a clogging info dump. 

The writing style was well-suited as well. It was light and serious where it needed to be. Gritty in places without being over the top. As for the world building: HUDs, mana bars, health bars, and things of the Life were as well-integrated as magic would be in a fantasy setting. 

All-in-all, a rounded novel. It’s easy to get sucked in. While the storyline isn’t necessarily original, the storytelling is refreshing and everything wraps up nice and neat at the end. 

Buy it here!

Invinciman, by R. T. Leone



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Welcome to the exciting world of Robox, where robots beating the snot out of each other in cage matches are used to settle disputes on a scale you won’t be ready for. 

Ray Martin gets involved with Daniel Darque’s brainchild–a sentient robot named Darquer–and man does his life go wrong. Between a revolution, a botched assassination, and a genius’ downward spiral, poor Ray doesn’t have much time to breathe. 

I really enjoyed how well-organized the narrative was. It bounced a lot back and forth between past or present quite a bit, but only a handful of times did it feel awkward. They back and forth usually mirrored each others’ causes and effects. Backstory was given without an information dump using that method. Ample time was provided to get to know the characters and get a feel for their depth. 

I liked how friendship and loyalty were tested. Just how far can one be pushed in order to show continued support for their best friend? Ray found that out whether he wanted to or not. There’s many levels of dynamic storytelling involved with the narrative: corporate takeovers, political satire, and brilliantly engineered plots all weaved together. 

A tightly woven narrative with characters pretty well-developed and an ending sure to make even the most stoic of readers feel something. 

Buy it here!